Thursday, October 28, 2021

Botswana to host apiary disease research laboratory

Funds permitting, Botswana through the assistance and collaboration with the Nairobi-based AU Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (IBAR) has been selected as host to a state-of-the-art Apiary-Disease Research and Control Laboratory (ADRCL), hopefully during the 2017 fiscus. 

When fully functional the lab as an Apiary Disease Research and Control Centre of Excellence, a first in African veterinary medicine history, should safeguard wanton depletion of vulnerable honey-bee (Apis mellifera) colonies from parasites, ferocious insect pirates and animal predators. Remedial intervention strategies of this magnitude would improve honey production, down-stream manufacturing and sales revenues. 

More so, collaboration between Botswana as one of the first 21 countries conducting joint apiculture training with AU-IBAR animal resource think-tank should pave the way for the Centre’s smooth establishment. 

Launching the maiden interim Botswana National Kgamelo Apiculture Platform (BNKAP) during a three-day training workshop for local bee farmers, extension officers and other partners in Gaborone last week, Assistant Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security (MADFS) Kgotla Autlwetse said the AU-IBAR initiative coincides with the Agricultural Ministry’s Food Security transformation with Apiculture as the developmental cornerstone.

Autlwetse said Apiculture’s recent elevation to a ministerial division status involves, among others, comprehensive bee- research, national policy and legislative framework guidance and environmental impact assessment on bees.

AU-IBAR works in close consultation with International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) established in 1970 in Nairobi as the only sub-Saharan African international scientific research institute, focusing on  HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_development” \o “Sustainable development” sustainable development utilises  HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_health” \o “Human health” human health as the basis and the environment as the foundation for sustainability. 

The tripartite smart partnerships is said to underscore Botswana’s international support essential for the establishment of research laboratories capable providing continental solutions.

The Assistant Minister commended AU-IBAR for pioneering a Pan-African Initiative (PAI) in food security through European Union funding of the African Bee Project to improve honey production incomes. 

According to Autlewetse, “Apiculture forms a clarion call for vigour and passion as the road less travelled avails ample opportunities.”

The 2016 training workshop theme: ‘Raising Bee-Keeping in Botswana through Public-Private Partnership (PPP), places the honey bee at the heart of agricultural development in terms of financial sustainability and health benefits. 

“For instance, the annual bee pollination economic value is estimated at US$120 million, while the honey global business contributes over US$200 billion through crop pollination, honey production and bee-hive bi-products such as bees wax,” he said. 

“The magnitude of the financial market value challenges the entire 54 African member states who have endorsed the African Apiculture Platform (AAP) not only to embrace this unparalleled economic opportunity transforming the honey bee mindset of regarding the honey as a mere flying insect to treasuring it as a food security realization agent,” he said. “MADFS will do everything in its capacity to ensure full apiary project status ultimate success, as dictated by the AU-IBAR Pan-African Bee Project,” he added.   

In her welcome speech on behalf of the AU-IBAR Director Professor Ahmed Elsawalhy, AU-IBAR Project Officer Apiculture Development Dr. Sarah Ashanut Ossiya said Botswana as a leading beef producer in Africa has demonstrated capacity for innovative technologies recognizing apiculture as a breakthrough sector. 

Being among the first African member states to conduct a joint Apiculture training with AU-IBAR, Botswana is well positioned to grow the apiculture sector at grassroots level.

Dr. Ossiya who was officiating during the December 7 to 9 Botswana Refresher Bee-Keeping Training of Trainers (BRBKToT’s) workshop said: “Apart from providing training opportunities, refining skills and addressing deficiencies in honey production, AU-IBAR and ICIPE are implementing a Bee Health Project (BHP) to avert global disease outbreaks. This involves understanding our bees, managing hives, monitoring pesticides and other agro-chemicals’ impacts.

“We must also develop pollination services, to realize the true benefits of beekeeping. Honeybees are some of the most prolific insect pollinators: pollinating 71 of the 100 most common crops that account for 90% of the world’s food supply, making managed honey bees the most economically important pollinator.”

The MADFS Animal Production Director Dr. Philemon Motsu said Botswana feels honoured participating in the greater Pan African Initiatives aimed improving apicultural practice at continental level augmenting food security and socio-economic development. The workshop’s skills training should provide economic empowerment towards embarking onto commercial beekeeping.

“Given Botswana’s reliance on honey imports entailing higher consumer prices, the potential for growth in apiculture is huge. The Apiculture Platform will assist in building the capacity we need to develop the sector as one of the breakthrough areas”, Dr. Motsu said.

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