IX. Insect products


1. Lac
2. Natural honey
3. Beeswax
4. Silk
5. Cochineal

6. Insect galls


Lac, silk, natural honey, beeswax, cochineal and aleppo galls are the commercially important NWFP produced by insects.

1. Lac


1.1. Product description
1.2. Uses
1.3. Production
1.4. Trade
1.5. Trends


1.1. Product description

Lac is a resinous secretion obtained from body of a hemipterous insect, Laccifera lacca. The principal host trees of lac insect are Butea monosperma, Zizuphus mauritiana, Schleichera oleosa, S. oleosa, Samania saman, Cajanus cajans, Albizzia chinensis, A. odoratissima, Acacia mauritians, Ficus drupica, Combretum quadranglare, Acacia catechu, A. villlosa, Dalbergia chinensis, D. nigerescens and Albinia lucidor.

Naturally occurring resin is collected from branches of numerous deciduous natural forests in many Southeast Asian countries. A more common practice, however, is the deliberate inoculation of host trees, either wild, or more frequently, cultivated. Stick lac is the crude product obtained directly from the trees, and is known as seed lac once particulate matter has been removed from the sticks and as shellac when the resin has been extracted.

1.2. Uses

Lac finds a variety of uses in plastics, electrical goods, adhesives, leather, wood finishing, lacquer work, printing, polish and varnish, ink and a number of other industries. It is also the principal ingredient in sealing wax. The lac also yields an edible dye, which is used in colouring soft drinks and foods.

1.3. Production

Lac is produced in a number of countries including India, Thailand, Mayanmar, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos. Total annual production is estimated to be 20,000 tonnes. India and Thailand are the major producers, producing on the average, 17,000 tonnes of lac annually, of which about 70 percent is produced by the former and 30 percent by the latter (Table 5). China produced 1,482 and 833 tonnes in 1988 and 1989, respectively 1. Laos also produces about 100 tonnes annually, part of which is exported (de Beer, 1993). Lac production can vary considerably from year to year in relation to weather conditions.

1 China Agriculture Yearbook, 1990. Agriculture Publishing House.

Table 5. Lac production in India and Thailand

Year


Production

India 1

Thailand 2

Total

1980-81

20,481

800

21,281

1984-85

12,955

8,000

20,955

1985-86

18,175

15,500

33,675

1986-87

20,340

10,000

30,340

1987-88

14,600

4,800

19,400

1988-89

15,000

4,500

19,500

1989-90

17,345

7,250

24,595

Average

11,890

5,085

16,975

Source:

1. Area and Production of Principal crops in India (1989-90), Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of India.
2. Subansenee, 1991.

Table 6. Lac: Indian exports.

Year

Quantity (Tonnes)

Value (Mill.) (Indian Rs.)

FOB Price (Rs per kg)

1987-88

5037.75

163.64

32.48

1988-89

7157.34

193.35

27.01

1991-92

5673.54

250.16

44.09

Average

5956.21

202.38

34.53

Source: Monthly Statistics of the Foreign trade of India, Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, Government of India.

Table 7. Lac: exports from Thailand

Year

Quantity (Tonnes)

Value (000 Baht)

FOB Price (Bahts per kg)

1983

8,988

270,062

30.00

1984

4,606

476,486

103.40

1985

6,258

558,826

89.30

1986

7,785

372,475

47.90

1987

7,334

267,727

36.50

1988

3,463

117,574

34.00

1989

7,143

160,709

22.50

1990

4,684

110,123

23.51

Average

5,585

259,331

43.01

Source: Thailand Foreign Agriculture Trade Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Bangkok.

1.4. Trade


1.4.1. Price


India and Thailand dominate world trade, both exporting, on the average, about 6,000 tonnes per annum each (Table 5 and 6). While Thailand exports the bulk of its production, India consumes almost half of it domestically. Vietnam exports, on the average, about 300 tonnes of lac and stick lac annually (Tien, 1991). Lac is exported to about 45 countries, but Germany, Italy, Egypt, Indonesia and USA are the major markets.

1.4.1. Price

During 1991-92, average fob price of Indian lac was Rs. 44.09 per kg.

1.5. Trends

Current international trade in shellac is almost half of what it used to be in 1950s, when its major consumption was gramophone record manufacturing, an industry which is now almost extinct. Shellac is, however, still prized in certain applications such as polishing of high class furniture, and as an essential ingredient in the manufacturing of several items including confectionery. Also newer products are being developed using lac as the base. A more recent development is the use of shellac in the field of agriculture in coating of urea with shellac to make it a slow release fertilizer.

2. Natural honey


2.1. Forest honey
2.2. Cultured Honey


2.1. Forest honey

Forest honey is produced mainly by Apis dorsata and constitutes an important non-timber forest product in many developing countries, both as a source of food, tonic and medicine for local communities as well as a source of revenue for the governments. In some countries like Bangladesh and Thailand, honey collection is controlled and organized through issuing collection permits by the forestry departments. In other countries the forest dwellers collect it free of charge for domestic consumption or sale.

In Bangladesh, Sundarbans forests are a main source of honey, yielding on an average, about 220 tonnes of honey and 55 tonnes of wax annually (ADB, 1992). Small quantities of beeswax are occasionally exported from Bangladesh. About 350 tonnes of honey and 28 tonnes of wax are collected from forests in India. A single natural hive may yield about 35 kg of honey and 1 kg of wax (Gupta and Guleria, 1982). Annual collection of honey from forest areas in Pakistan has been estimated to be 55 to 60 tonnes (Iqbal, 1991).

In Vietnam, about 200 to 400 tonnes of forest honey are marketed annually, which fetches better price in domestic market because of its good taste and medicinal qualities. One litre of honey from Mekong delta costs 10,000 to 40,000 Dong (1991 price), whereas one litre of ordinary honey fetches a price of 6,000 Dong (de Beer, 1993).

Several provinces of Laos produce fine qualities of forest honey. At present most honey is traded locally. Small quantities are sold across the borders with neighbouring countries. A small factory has been recently established to process and pack forest honey for export to Bangkok and Europe (de Beer, 1993).

Forest honey, though generally not traded across borders, constitutes an important economic resource in local economies. Because of its freedom from agro-chemical residues, forest honey has the potential to be marketed as 'organic honey'. Therefore, it has a potential in international trade, if its production and quality can be enhanced in developing countries by integrating beekeeping with forest management.

2.2. Cultured Honey


2.2.1. Production
2.2.2. Trade
2.2.3. Market characteristics
2.2.4. Prices
2.2.5. Prospects


Honey obtained from Apis mellifera and A. cerana in modern apiaries is an important commodity of international trade, though its status as a NWFP may be debatable, because unlike typical NWFPs, it may not originate directly from forests. The role of forests and cultivated trees as a source of nectar and pollen for bees kept in modern bee hives is, however, well recognised. One tree may provide as much nectar and pollen for honey bees as provided by a hundred or thousand smaller plants (Holmes and Heinker, 1978). Some of the forest plants like Acacia modesta and Plectranthus rugosus are well known for producing best quality honey in Himalayan region, and beekeepers in Pakistan shift their bees regularly to the mountains each summer to forage these valuable nectar sources.

2.2.1. Production

According to the statistics of the Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations (FAO), world production of natural honey was estimated to be 1.14, 1.17 and 1.19 million tonne; in 1989,1990 and 1991, respectively. Average production during 1975 to 1984 was 0.93 million tonnes per year. Thus, world honey production shows an upward trend. Former USSR, China, USA, Mexico, and Turkey are the major producing countries which contributed 20%, 17%, 8%, 6% and 4%, to the total world production in 1991. During 1991, 49% of the volume of world production was from developed and 51% from developing countries.

2.2.2. Trade

World trade rose from 287,191 tonnes in 1989, valued at US$ 295.3 million, to 317,580 tonnes in 1991, valued at US$ 317.6 million, or by 10.6% in quantity and 7.6% in value . During 1991, the developing countries collectively accounted for 68.6% of the total honey exports, compared with 55.5% in 1983.

FAO Trade Yearbook, 1991.

World exports have been steadily rising from 1975. During 1991, world exports were 26.7% of the volume of world production compared with 26.5% in 1983 and 19.0% in 1976. Considerable expansion of the world demand for honey has been caused inter alia by increased interest in natural and health food products and higher living standards.

2.2.3. Market characteristics

There are basically two market segments, viz., the market for table honey and the market for industrial honey, the former accounting for the bulk of honey marketed. Table honey is used chiefly as a spread on bread. Some quantities are also used as a natural sweetener. Industrial honey finds its uses in baking, confectionery, cereals, beverages, honey-roasted nuts, baby foods, pharmaceutical products, and cosmetics (ITC, 1986)

Germany (West), USA, United Kingdom and Japan are the major world markets. Bulk of honey trade in these countries is in the hands of agents and importers, but in Japan most honey is imported by trading companies. Bulk imports through intermediaries reach consumers after packing by packers and industrial users. Sometimes prepacked honey is also imported, but seldom from developing countries (ITC, 1986).

National food legislation is probably the major obstacle for many potential exporters. Most major markets set legislative requirements for foreign as well as domestic honey. These requirements are stringent and often difficult for developing countries to meet (ITC, 1986).

2.2.4. Prices

Average fob price of honey during 1989, 1990 and 1991 were US$ 1028.23, 1103.35 and 1171.50 per tonne, respectively. Prices in 1991 show a rise of about 6.2% and 13.9% over the prices in 1990 and 1989, respectively.

2.2.5. Prospects

Honey, being a nutritious diet and having considerable export potential can fit in rural development programmes, if integrated with forestry development in developing countries. Possibilities of 'organic honey' production in natural forests have already been indicated. At the same time there is a need of integrating honey production with farm forestry projects by growing such a mix of bee forage trees on farm lands, which can ensure supply of nectar and pollen to foraging bees round the year. This will relieve the beekeepers in cutting down cost of production involved in artificial feeding during leen periods and frequent migration of their apiaries in search of new sources of pollen and nectar for their bees.

3. Beeswax


3.1. Product description
3.2. Uses
3.3. Production
3.4. Trade
3.5. Prices
3.6. Prospects


3.1. Product description

Beeswax is a natural wax secreted by various species of honey bee. It is obtained from old and damaged combs and from the cappings with which the bees cover cells containing honey. A substantial portion of bees wax exported from developing countries comes from combs of wild bees, which are damaged during the process of honey collection.

3.2. Uses

The cosmetics industry is the largest user of bees wax. Cosmetics containing beeswax include: skin creams (e.g. cold cream for facial use), emulsions, make-up foundations, face powders, cheek pomades, hair creams/pomades, lipsticks and eye make-ups (e.g., eyebrow pencils and mascaras). The pharmaceutical industry is the second largest user of beeswax, since it is used as an ingredient in certain ointments, for coating pills, and in some manufacturing processes. Candle manufacturers are the third major users of beeswax. Other uses include preparation of polishes for furniture, wood and leather, finishes for leather, rexine, wood and paper, lithographic and engraving materials, castings, dental equipment, ornaments and confectioneries (ITC, 1978).

3.3. Production

In the absence of any reliable estimates of beeswax production, a fair estimate can be estimated by assuming it to be 1.5 to 2.5 percent of the total honey produced (ITC, 1978). Thus, on the basis of FAO estimates of 1.19 million tonnes of honey produced in 1991, beeswax production is estimated to be in the range of 17,850 to 29,750 tonnes for the same period. These figures, however, are indicative only.

3.4. Trade

In world trade statistics beeswax is grouped with other insect waxes. Nevertheless, beeswax is a major component of insect waxes, and the trade value can be safely assumed to be that of beeswax. Based on the information derived from COMTRADE data base, total value of the insect waxes traded internationally during 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991 was 23.63, 23.27, 26.08 and 23.35 million US$, respectively. During 1992, major exporting countries were China (14.9%), United Republic of Tanzania (11.4%), Germany (11.1%), Canada (7.0%), the Netherlands (6.3%), Brazil (6.1%), Japan (5.7%), USA (4.8%) and Ethiopia (3.7%); collectively accounting for 71% of the total trade volume in insect waxes. Australia, France, Chile, UK, Dominion Republic and New Zealand were some of the minor origins.

3.5. Prices

Prices (c & f) quoted in the Public Ledger's Commodity Week (July 3, 1993) were as follows:

Origin

US$/Tonne

Tanzania

3,300

New Zealand

3,600

3.6. Prospects

ITC (1993a) indicates shortage of beeswax in major world markets and business opportunities exist for new suppliers. Moreover, as demand for cosmetics containing raw materials derived from natural sources has increased, market prospects for beeswax from developing countries are good.

4. Silk


4.1. Product description
4.2. Production
4.3. Trade.
4.4. Prices
4.5. Prospects


4.1. Product description

Silkworm rearing, both mulberry and non-mulberry, is a highly labour intensive cottage industry. Mulberry cultivation is indispensable to domesticated silkworm (Bombyx mori) rearing. Mulberry is a multiple tree. It produces a fine wood, branches can be used in basketry, fruits are edible and can be used to make wine. Its leaves are fed to silkworm, besides being a good fodder for livestock.

Non-mulberry or wild silkworms include eri, tassar and muga. Eri silkworms (Philosamia ricini and P. cynthia) are reared on castor oil plant leaves to produce a brick-red silk, popularly known as eri silk. Tasar silkworms (Antheraea pernyi, A. yamamai, A. mylitta) feed on oak, Terminalia and several other host plants and produce tasar silk. Muga silkworms (Antheraea assama) are found only in the state of Assam and feed on 'som' (Machilius bombycina) and 'soalu' (Litsaea polyantha), producing an unusual lustrous golden-yellow, attractive and strong silk.

4.2. Production

World's total production of raw silk was 56,500, 49,360, 58,914, 66,978 and 76,761 tonnes in 1938, 1978, 1985, 1989 and 1991, respectively (ITC, 1992). The production has gone up by 36% during the last 53 years. The total production by the year 2000 is estimated at 85,000 tonnes of raw silk (ITC, 1992). Although production has been rising gradually, the share of silk in total for all textile fibres remains very low (about 0.17% in 1989). The value of silk and silk products in international trade, however is quite significant, silk being a high value item.

The production pattern has changed over time. China has emerged as world's largest producer of raw silk. It produced 48,500 tonnes or 64% of the world total in 1991, valued at US$ 2.1 billion.

India increased production to become the world's second largest producer of raw silk. India has the unique distinction of being the only country in the world producing all the commercially known varieties of silk - mulberry, tassar (both tropical and temperate), eri, and muga. It ranks second to China as a mulberry silk producer and accounts for about 14% of world production of raw silk. It is also the second largest producer of tassar silk, again after China. It has the monopoly of world production of golden-yellow muga silk.

Production in Brazil has expanded and it is emerging as an important silk producer outside traditional Asian silk producing countries. Production in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) has levelled off (ITC, 1992).

Silk production in Japan and the Republic of Korea is also on the decline, at a faster rate in the latter than in the former.

4.3. Trade.

China is by far the world's largest producer and exporter of raw silk, accounting for 90% share of global exports. Principal destinations of Chinese raw silk during 1990 were the Western Europe (Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, the UK), Japan, Hong Kong, India and the former USSR (ITC, 1992).

Brazil has recently emerged as a producer and exporter of raw silk and silk yarn, with modest but steadily rising supplies, all being directed entirely to the Japanese market.

4.4. Prices

Current prices of raw silk and cocoons in China are US$ 30.00 and US$ 2.00 per kg, respectively.

4.5. Prospects

Both Japan and Korea are looking for new sources of raw silk production in developing countries, particularly in some of the tropical African countries, to sustain their silk industry. This offers an opportunity for forestry development through integration of sericulture, moriculture and agro-forestry.

There is also potential of tassar silk production in some of the South African countries. Zimbabwe has already taken some initiative in this direction.

Vietnamese are also investing a lot to rehabilitate their sericulture.

5. Cochineal

Cochineal consists of dried bodies of the female insects of Dactylopius coccus indigenous to central and south America. Cactus nopalea is the host plant for the insects. The female insects are picked by hand after mating. The insects are dried in shade for 20-30 days. About 100,000 to 150,000 insects yield 1 kg of raw cochineal. Extraction of cochineal with alkaline water produces cochineal ammoniacal that can be fixed on an inorganic support to obtain carmine lake.

Total world production of cochineal, though fluctuating, is estimated at 150 to 180 tonnes per year. Total demand is also in the same range. Peru is the biggest producer, accounting for 90% of the total production. The rest comes from Canary Islands, but is of superior quality, hence fetches 20%- 40% more in prices. Due to unstable supplies, prices have been fluctuating as per following detail :

Year

Price (US$/kg)

1975

21.3

1980

17.3

1982

9.3

1986

39.0

1987

45.0

1988

28.0

ITC files (unpublished information).

About 62 Peruvian suppliers sell the product to 6-7 European, 5-6 American and 2 Japanese buyers.

6. Insect galls

Some of the galls produced by insects are quite beneficial. The gall nuts of commerce, also called Allepo, Mecca, Chinese or Turkey galls, are produced on various species of oaks and other trees by certain Eurasian cynipid wasps. Among the best grades containing more than 50% tannic acid, are those harvested in Iran, Turkey and Syria. These galls, long used in parts of Asia to make dyes and medicines, are now processed for use in tanning, ink and pharmaceutical industries. The chief active principles are the astringent, tannic and garlic acids. No further information on trade of insect galls could be collected.