…as a farmer recounts the ordeal at the hands of kidnappers
Bee agriculture has been described by many stakeholders as a gold mine waiting to be exploited due to its economic and medicinal values.
As expected, many Nigerians were already making their fortunes in the bee trade, at least before the situation prevailing in the country.
Experts say honey can be used for so many things, including boosting the immune system, helping to fight allergies and lowering cholesterol levels. It also helps with insect bites, heals eczema and preserves the skin, among other benefits.
This is in addition to the fact that honey is used both as food and as medicine. It is said to contain a number of antioxidants, including phenolic compounds like flavonoids, and to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Mr Gideon Dagunduro, a beekeeper in Abuja and chairman of the Grassroots Bee Keepers Association of Nigeria (GBAN), Abuja Chapter, told Daily Trust on Sunday that its more than 5,000 members, who previously made a living from beekeeping, are now worried about their investment and the way forward.
Speaking to our correspondent who visited one of the farms in Anagada, Pastor Gideon revealed that the situation was very serious and called on the government to come to their aid to combat the threat of insecurity and the global effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
At Anagada Bee Farm, consisting of five hectares of land, Daily Trust Saturday observed that many hives (boxes) were vandalized, some harvested and not ready to harvest.
Some people were also seen cutting down some of the trees used as cover and for beehives for firewood purposes.
Apart from the Anagada farm, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) beekeepers also had farms in Abaji, Kwali, Dobi, Bwari and Gwagwalada.
Dagunduro also revealed that many farmers had deserted their farms due to the activities of bandits who kidnapped their members and demanded ransom. Those who were not kidnapped saw their farms attacked and some of the beehives harvested and others vandalized by those they said were Fulani herdsmen.
At other times, he said the cattle were herded into the farm, where they broke the crates and destroyed the structure.
It is for this reason that farmers are asking the federal government to help them by creating an environment conducive to the development of beekeeping.
They said it was necessary for the government to help them fence the farms to protect them from encroachment and distortion.
“Our main problem, and I believe the problem of many other farmers across the country, is insecurity. As we speak, one of our members just called that his farm was vandalized yesterday.
“These people come at night with guns and take our harvest. The attacks took place in Dobi, Abaji and Gwagwalada. In some farms, we have lost more than 5 million naira. At one point, we valued the loss at over 50 million naira. And some of these people are just small farmers; and that discourages them.
“The government can also help to get a secure farm, which will encourage us. Our harvest has decreased due to insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dagunduro said.
He also advised those who wish to join beekeeping to do so. And he was optimistic that the challenges would soon be a thing of the past.
He added, “With between N50,000 and N100,000 you can start beekeeping, you harvest within six months and earn money.
“Beekeeping is the gold that Nigeria has yet to tap. With a little money you can start. In addition, beekeeping can be practiced anywhere in the country. But if you want to commercialize the process, you need a farm and then plant trees, like mango trees and such.
“People are interested in joining the association, but they are handicapped by insecurity. Many more people are also afraid to go to their farms because of the kidnappers.
Alhassan Muhammad from Anagada, also a beekeeper, told the Daily Trust on Saturday: “I had 10 boxes, but now I have four, the Fulani have vandalized the rest.
“Our plan is to fence off the farm and put in security. One person cannot control these people; they will hunt you down and do whatever they want to do.
When asked why people were allowed to cut trees, Alhassan said, “The owner of the land was fed up with the harassment from herdsmen, so he allowed some people to start cutting the trees. I will speak to him again and advise him to leave the trees.
“They even cut the cashew trees. And the honey from the trees is sweeter and better than the others.
Along the same lines, Ali Dikko, another beekeeper, said the situation had become so serious that farmers were discouraged.
“It’s harvest time, but we are looking for other businesses to do,” he lamented.
On World Bee Day last year, he said, “We were with FCT Minister of State Hajiya Ramatu who donated some tools to us to boost our agriculture. We thanked the people of the ministry for having always helped us in one way or another.
He also said that due to the difficulties they were facing, the Agriculture Bank had given some of their members loans on favorable terms, adding that even though they had started to repay, it was not enough. really make a big difference.
“The Agriculture Bank gave us a few interventions last year, about 100,000 naira each, for some of our members. It wasn’t much, but it came a long way. We always call on the government to help us secure our farms. We would like our farms to be fenced to prevent encroachment, but we don’t have the money to do so.
“Our farmers are ready to offer Nigeria the best honey. Much of the honey in circulation is adulterated, but if we are allowed to cultivate it, people will be able to get the most out of it.
“On this farm, we had more than 100 hives, but now we can’t boast of having 50. It’s even less because of vandalism. It’s harvest season, but there’s really nothing to harvest because we can’t secure the farms. At times when it is time to harvest, before we come, the shepherds will harvest it.
“Our plan is to take beekeeping to the next level, so we also want to train our members on new ways to do it.
“We also need partners to come and invest so that together we can all benefit from this agriculture. I can say that honey is lucrative, it is more expensive than gold. If we have partners, we can take this agriculture to the next level.
“Nigerian honey is some of the best in the world, but we can’t even meet local demands. The Australian Embassy is talking to us about providing 10,000 tons of honey but we cannot do it.
“Some Israelis approached us from Lagos saying they wanted Nigerian honey. So the market is available but there is no conducive environment.
“The land is there, the beehives are there, but we need other things, like a fence, a security post, etc. We have about five hectares of land in Anagada, but there is no security. Two are in use and the rest are just there,” he said.
He also advised fresh graduates, especially corps members, to undergo entrepreneurship training during orientation, saying beekeeping is among the things they teach.
“We advise young graduates to join our association and learn the basics,” he said.