Costa Rica Must Enhance Its Potential for Beekeeping

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    Costa Rica loses the opportunity to produce more honey, as it does not have a national apiculture plan to promote this agricultural activity, said Juan Bautista Alvarado, president of the National Chamber for the Promotion of Beekeeping.

    Currently, the country produces between 600 and 1,000 tons per year, which is not even enough to meet local demand, when its potential is 5,000 tons per year. There is no government support to promote the activity as there is for other agricultural activities such as cattle, despite the fact that Guanacaste has a lot of land for bee farms.

    “There is a lack of public policy on the part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), subsidies and other types of support that promote honey production and make the sector more efficient,” said Alvarado.

    New law

    The claim occurs at a time when a new law was approved to declare beekeeping of public interest, which commits the State to promote and encourage actions aimed at entrepreneurship, execution and development of the activity. This law even establishes that  on May 20th of each year the National Day of the Bees will be celebrated.

    The project lays the foundation for developing beekeeping in a more formal way, but it is not enough, according to Alvarado. The initiative also creates a legal framework for the recovery of bees by granting it the power to deliver the bees that it recovers to the MAG, the body that will be in charge of donating them to beekeepers.

    In addition, it holds the National Animal Health Service responsible for recovering and managing wild swarms and hives, so that the State has more tools to slow down the disappearance of bees due to the use of pesticides, their main problem to date.

    Bee deaths

    In the country, up to 250 thousand bees die a day due to the use of agrochemicals, which per year leaves the loss of 92 million specimens. In terms of pollination, it is equivalent to an average of 1,750 million less pollinated flowers, as the flowering period becomes desynchronized with the presence of insects. This affects honey production, and thus rural economies.

    On the other hand, beekeepers are calling for a ban on Fipronil (insecticide) and Trifloxystrobin (fungicide), so that the country recovers its bee populations. Additionally, they suggest school education programs, awareness campaigns and that reforestation programs consider species that are conducive to the establishment of hives. “Lack of sensitivity, and above all training for farmers. We cannot continue using chemicals that kill one of the most important living being on Earth, ”Alvarado said.

    In the country, some 1,500 families are engaged in beekeeping, which invoiced exports of natural honey for $ 28,000 in 2019, exclusively to the European Union, according to data from the Foreign Trade Promoter.

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