Lebanon hosts the fourth Mediterranean beekeeping forum
Under the patronage and in the presence of H.E Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Hussein Haj Hassan, UNDP-ART GOLD Lebanon (AGL) hosted the Fourth Mediterranean Beekeeping Forum in Beirut, Lebanon on November 11th and 12th, 2010. The Forum was initially established in Foligno, Italy in 2007 in collaboration with the Association of Umbrian Beekeepers (APAU), FELCOS Umbria, Foligno Municipality and ART Initiative.
More than 150 participants attended this year’s Forum representing honey producers’ associations and cooperatives, research institutes and public entities from France, Spain, Morocco, Malta, Algeria, Tunisia, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Albania and Italy.
This year’s forum entitled “Honey Bees: promoters of biodiversity” has been in line with the United Nations International Year for Biodiversity with the aim to reduce the environmental depletion, protect animal and vegetable diversities, and promote sustainable environmental development. Additionally, the Forum has helped to exchange ideas and experiences on the role of bees and its impact on biodiversity and environmental sustainability.
The Forum falls within a series of activities in support of the honey value chain which AGL is implementing at the national and regional levels, in North and South Lebanon, and the Bekaa region. The Forum is in partnership with the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture and the Umbrian Beekeepers Association, and supported by the Spanish Government, Felcos Umbria, Foligno municipality and ART initiative.
Although the beekeeping sector in Lebanon faces problems due to the deteriorated environment, reduced planted acreage and the climate change implications in addition to the impact of toxic pesticides which contribute to the killing of bees, an assessment of the beekeeping sector in Lebanon conducted by AGL in 2008 indicated that the sector is vital and has a strategically important potential for competitiveness and sustainable development. Additionally, the benefits of the beekeeping sector are not only limited to those of honey production, but it also extends to countless therapeutic and nutritional ones. Also, because bees are natural pollinators, the beekeeping sector contributes to the environmental development. Recent studies have shown the ability of a single bee to visit up to 4000 flower a day, emphasizing the effective role of bees in protecting biodiversity.
In this context, AGL in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture in Lebanon, cooperatives and local associations of beekeepers, and the Association of Umbria Beekeepers in Italy, is implementing a range of activities to support the honey value chain in Lebanon.
“AGL’s support to the Lebanese honey value chain is through organizing the beekeeping sector, improving the quality of honey, and finding market opportunities, whether locally or abroad”, said UNDP Country Director, Mr. Seifeddine Abbaro.
The Minister of Agriculture Mr. Hussein Haj Hassan said that the agricultural sector in Lebanon suffers from many problems, chronic and structural ones. “The beekeeping sector in particular is increasingly deteriorating given the hazardous use of pesticides by some farmers, at times spraying the citrus fruits an astounding 18 times per season“, he added.
Mr. Rafael Reig, first secretary at the Spanish Embassy in Lebanon explained that Spain’s contribution in the forum falls within the framework of AGL. He assured his country’s willingness to continue supporting initiatives that protect the environment and biodiversity in the Mediterranean region.
In turn, Mr. Pannitieri, President of the Mediterranean Beekeeping Forum emphasized that the Forum aims to protect biodiversity and support the beekeeping sector.
The Forum has helped exchange ideas, information, and experiences and provide better solutions to the problems facing the beekeeping sector. Next year’s forum, the fifth mediteranean beekeeping forum, will be hosted in Spain.