BEIRUT – Kurdish beekeepers hope to win more recognition for their honey at the 11th International Conference of Arab Beekeepers, this year held in the Lebanese capital.
Kurdistan’s mountain pastures covered with wildflowers are an ideal climate for raising bees. Kurdish honey has twice won a medal at previous editions of the conference and organizers say honey from this region is in demand.
“We want to invest in the Kurdistan Region because there is demand for many types of honey. We’re in need of honeys like Sidr and Rabie. It’s very important for Kurds to take part in such conferences,” said Fathi Bihery, head of the Arab beekeepers union.
The spotlight will be on Kurdistan’s more than 10,000 beekeepers when Erbil hosts the annual conference next year.
The conference is an opportunity to learn new techniques and how to put research into practice.
“We hope we can benefit from them and take them to Kurdistan,” beekeepers Kaefi Hamad said of the international researchers and companies present at the event.
Though Kurdistan Region’s honey industry has a lot of potential, it also faces challenges.
More than 200 beekeepers on Mount Shingal have not returned after the war with ISIS.
“We, from Shingal, were producing 120-180 tons of honey. With the arrival of ISIS we only produce 8-15 tons. There were 250-300 beekeepers, but now there’re less than 15 beekeepers from Mount Shingal,” said beekeeper Walid Khalil.
And heavy rains, a product of climate change, damaged hives in the mountains.
Production levels in 2017 were at the lowest
in recent memory.