Alentejo beekeepers believe honey production has plummeted and lament lack of support

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Alentejo’s beekeeping associations today estimated that honey production in the region could fall, in some cases by as much as 90%, due to drought, and lamented the lack of support for the sector.

In a statement, the six associations said that “beekeeping is being ignored by the Ministry of Agriculture”, warning that if the situation continues, “the decline already observed in natural pollinators will become even more pronounced”.

“It is completely incomprehensible that Portugal is the only country in the European Union not to include beekeeping in its agri-environmental measures and not to offer direct support to beekeepers”, they stressed.

In the document, sent to the Lusa news agency, the associations warn that this year, due to the drought affecting the region, “the drop in honey production in Alentejo could reach, in some cases, 90%”.

“The concern is common to all those involved in the sector and consists in knowing how to keep the hives alive until the next season”, they said.

João Neto, a technician from Apilegre, one of the signatory associations, insists that “beekeeping is completely forgotten”, as the sector “does not benefit from any type of direct aid, crop insurance or agri-environmental measures”.

“The year has been exceptionally bad in terms of honey production, especially in Alentejo, and autumn could be between 80 and 90% of the normal harvest”, he said, believing it was “natural that beekeepers are a little desperate”.

João Neto stressed that beekeepers “have no notion or reference as to what income they will have the following year” and that, without the Ministry’s support, the sector “is completely dependent on the weather”.

“And politicians like to talk a lot about protecting biodiversity and green agriculture, but they are not aware, don’t want to be aware or don’t know” the importance of the beekeeping sector, he stressed.

Emphasizing that “bees are the basis of ecosystems because of pollination”, João Neto predicted that “if there is no support, it is likely that, in some time, there will be no young people devoted to beekeeping”.

“There’s no security in this activity, and when you see other agricultural activities, particularly livestock farming, receiving aid for this or that, it’s totally unacceptable and it’s discrimination that’s not understood”, he said.

The Apilegre technician declared that the situation of beekeeping in Portugal “is totally unacceptable” and warned that, given the difficulties, “one day there will be no more beekeepers”, as “it is increasingly difficult to make it a profitable activity”.

“Bees, like other pollinators and insects in general, are in decline in nature. If the beekeeper ceases to exist, you can be sure that the apis mellifera bee will be left, in the wild, with a residual quantity, because those who look after them against disease, feed them when they have no food and give them good conditions are the beekeepers”, he added.

In their press release, the associations, which bring together some 1,500 beekeepers in the region, state that this week they met with the Alentejo Regional Director of Agriculture in Évora to explain the “serious difficulties” facing the beekeeping sector.

The document was signed by the beekeeping associations of North-East Alentejo (Apilegre), the Guadiana Valley Natural Park (Apiguadiana), the Guadiana Valley (Apivale) and the municipality of Montemor-o-Novo (Montemormel).

Other signatories include the Association for Rural Development and Traditional Productions Concelho Avis (Aderavis) and the Association of Beekeepers of Southwest Alentejo and the Vicentina Coast (AASACVicentina).

Beekeepers complain that the honey sector is experiencing its worst crisis in 40 years

The end of pollination would lead to a 0.4% drop in Portuguese domestic product

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