FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

New FAO project and partnership with UMA to preserve and develop beekeeping in Maghreb countries

Mobilization to preserve bee populations and biodiversity and promote the sector

Tunis, 22 May 2023: On the sidelines of World Bee Day (May 20), the FAO sub-regional office in Tunisia kicked off a new project formulated within the framework of the existing good collaboration between the Union of Arab Maghreb (UMA) and FAO. The implementation of this project involves the five Ministries of Agriculture of the countries of North Africa. A budget of nearly 500,000 USD has been allocated to strengthen the millennial contribution of beekeeping to both biodiversity and the rural economy.

The bee is an integral part of our environment, which they shape and maintain. Their foraging plays a crucial role in the pollination of plants and guarantees the reproduction of many plant species, not to mention its impact on the preservation of ecosystems. In his opening speech, Mr. Philippe Ankers underlined that “beekeeping is a subtle alliance between man and the bee. It is much more than just an economic activity. Beekeeping is a symbol of fertility, prosperity and sustainability. For centuries, our ancestors have been able to maintain a harmonious relationship with bees, aware of the benefits they bring to our ecosystems and our society. And North Africa, with its diversity of climates, flora and landscapes, offers an environment conducive to the development of beekeeping. From Mauritania to Libya, passing through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, the region abounds in natural resources that support the life of bees and promotes the production of honey and other hive products of an exceptional quality”.

For his part, Mr. Mohammed Bengoumi, International Expert on Animal Health and Production at the FAO, said that “North Africa is the cradle of beekeeping, which has remained a widespread activity for generations. This priority sector for rural development has experienced fluctuations in terms of the total number of hives and production in recent years. In 2020, honey production in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia was estimated at 5376, 764, 8334 and 3645 tons of honey respectively (FAO, 2021). In addition to hive products, namely honey, royal jelly, wax, propolis, bee venom... the beekeeping sector is seeing the emergence of new products and services around beekeeping which represent opportunities for the creation of new job niches and new sources of income.”

This new project will support relevant stakeholders in member countries to develop and promote beekeeping as a profitable economic activity while emphasizing sustainable practices and biodiversity preservation. Technical assistance will be provided to institutions involved in the sector as well as beekeeping organizations to improve practices and build the capacity of beekeepers, to facilitate access to markets for beekeeping products and to promote their marketing. The project will also be an opportunity to work on the institutional framework and the establishment of a coherent strategy for the development of sustainable beekeeping in North Africa.