Ziad Sa’ad has a degree in media and communication, but has always been a farmer and beekeeper in Al Qurnah, Iraq.
“Our community has a relationship with this land that is difficult to describe; our parents and grandparents were also farmers,” he says. “Our work and our life cycle on these farms are interdependent“.
Their goal was to raise awareness of the importance of farms in this predominantly poor area. So he created Facebook and WhatsApp groups on beekeeping and agriculture, and with training in health and safety at work from the International Labor Organizationis spreading the message on social media and transferring the knowledge to local farmers.
“Our work in agriculture fosters economic opportunity, security and self-sufficiency“, he says. “It allows us to be independent.”
Support for beekeepers
Gulhayo Khaydarova, from Durmon, Uzbekistan, has been a beekeeper for 14 years, and the honey produced by her bees is famous throughout the town. Explain that the traditions and secrets of beekeeping are passed down from generation to generation.
But last winter’s drop in temperatures killed off most of his bees. Even the most experienced beekeepers can suffer this loss.
To offset their losses, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provided his family modern beekeeping equipment and 20 new hives.
Today, honey production has increased, providing a more sustainable livelihood for his family.
Break gender barriers
“The bees they are extremely intelligent insects“, says Ligia Elena Moreno Veliz, from the town of La Fé, in Venezuela. Once fearful of pollinators, thanks to an FAO grant, she now runs a prosperous business specializing in the breeding of queen bees and passes on her knowledge to other people.
It also broke a glass ceiling. Today, although only four of the community’s 30 beekeepers are women, the taboo has been lifted, she said.
Meanwhile, climate change is worryinghe added. Climatic instability, inconsistency in the flowering of trees and pollution cause bees to have new behavior patterns, adapting to changes in flowering times.
To meet this challenge, Ligia Elena and her collaborators have planted new trees to attract bees again.
“Beekeeping is my way of life“, he affirms. “It is the livelihood of my family and an activity that I hope my daughters will continue doing in the future.”
Honey flavored pride
Betty Ayikoru, from the Ugandan district of Arua, is a mother of four, a farmer, councilor and beekeeper. “This is how I make my living,” she says. she works with Honey Pride Aruaa social enterprise founded by Sam Aderubo and supported by the United Nations Capital Development Fund.
Like many others, her life has improved thanks to the training and sustainable market provided by the company. Now, more than 1,700 farmers raise their bees in apiaries and, at harvest time, sell them to Honey Pride.
“By involving farmers, we give them a work alternative“, says Aderubo. “If beekeeping is brought to a level where farmers understand it as a business, it will improve their livelihoods.”
Guaranteeing the health of bees is one of the objectives of the UN food agency, especially in light of the threats that weigh on them, such as unsustainable agriculture, the abuse of pesticides and the intensive production of monocultures.
According to the agency, pollination is essential for the maintenance of plant biodiversity and the survival of the planet’s ecosystems, since about 75% of crops, which produce fruits and other seeds for human consumption, depend in part on pollinators, including bees.
Pollinator-friendly practices include rotating and crop diversitythe reduced use of pesticides and the restoration and protection of their habitat. Even the adoption of precision farming tools and innovation can protect bees, according to the FAO.
To help better protect pollinators, the agency hosted and co-hosted the second International Symposium on Biosafety in Beekeepingwhich updated the participants on the latest advances in beekeeping biosecurity and the initiatives that the international organizations involved are applying in different areas of the world to guarantee the health of bees.
“World Bee Day has contributed significantly to raising awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators and promoting international cooperation to protect them,” declared the President of the Republic of Slovenia.
Nataša Pirc Musar also recalled that her country started the establishment this memorial day in 2016 at an FAO regional conference for Europe and co-created more than 300 projects on pollinators with partners from all continents.
For its part, the UN has celebrated World Bee Day with a global ceremony organized by FAO in which the importance of these industrious pollinators was emphasized.
Under the motto of pollinator-friendly agricultural production, the event drew attention to the threats that endanger these insects and the need to address them.
On Monday, an event at the UN headquarters will showcase good practices and innovative projects with a view to raising awareness of the contribution of bees to environmental and social resilience.
“Protecting bees and other pollinators is essential to ensure agricultural production, food security, ecosystem restoration and plant health,” said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu.
As the beekeeper Moreno Veliz said, “bees are extremely intelligent insects. They are beautiful animals.”
What do you know about bees?
- FAO plays a leading role in facilitating and coordinating the International Pollinator Initiative and is committed to promoting policies that support biological control of plant pests and limit the use of pesticides through Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculturewith the aim of creating a greater diversity of habitats in agricultural and urban environments
- Three out of four crops worldwide that produce fruit or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators.
- Protecting bees safeguards biodiversity as most pollinators are wild, including more than 20,000 species of bees
- Pollinator-dependent food products contribute to healthy eating and nutrition
- Improving pollinator density and diversity increases crop yields: pollinators affect 35% of the world’s agricultural land and contribute to the production of 87 of the world’s major food crops
- Almost 75% of the world’s crops that produce fruit and seeds for human use depend, at least in part, on pollinators.