Zaid Sa’ad has a degree in media and communication, but has always been a farmer and beekeeper in Al Qurnah, Iraq.
“Our society has a relationship with our country that is difficult to describe; our fathers and grandfathers were also farmers,” he said. “Our work and life cycle on these farms is addicted to eachother.”
Creating awareness about the importance of farms in the predominantly poor area was his goal. So he created Facebook and WhatsApp groups on beekeeping and agriculture, and with safety and health training from the International Labor Organization (ILO), he spreads the word on social media and transfers the knowledge to local farmers.
“Our work in agriculture promotes economic opportunity, security and self-sufficiency,” he said. “It allows us to be independent.”
Support for beekeepers
Gulhayo Khaydarova, from Durmon, Uzbekistan, has been beekeeping for 14 years, and the honey her bees produce is famous throughout the village. She said The traditions and secrets of beekeeping are passed down from generation to generation.
But last winter’s plummeting temperatures killed most of her bees. Even the most experienced beekeepers can suffer this loss.
To compensate for her losses, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provided his family with modern beekeeping equipment and 20 new beehives.
Today, she has increased honey production, which provides a more sustainable livelihood for her household.
Breaking gender barriers
“Bees are extremely intelligent insects” said Ligia Elena Moreno Veliz, from La Fé, Venezuela. Once afraid of the pollinators, through an FAO grant, she now runs a thriving business specializing in queen bee rearing and imparting knowledge to others.
She also broke a glass ceiling. Today, while only four of the community’s 30 beekeepers are women, the taboo is now gone, she said.
Meanwhile, climate change is worrying, she added. Climate instability, inconsistency in tree blooms and pollution cause bees to acquire new behavioral patterns and adapt to the changes in bloom times.
To meet this challenge, Ligia Elena and her co-workers have planted new trees to attract bees again.
“Beekeeping is my way of life,” she said. “It’s my family’s livelihood and an activity I hope my daughters will continue in the future.”
Betty Ayikoru, from Arua District in Uganda, is a mother of four children, farmer, municipal councilor and beekeeper.
“It’s how I make a living,” she said.
She works with Honey Pride Arua, a social enterprise founded by Sam Aderubo and supported by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).
Like many others, her life has improved thanks to skills training and the sustainable market the company provides.
Now more than 1,700 farmers keep their bees in apiaries and at harvest time they sell to Honey Pride.
“By engaging farmers, we are giving them alternative employment,” Aderubo said. “If beekeeping is taken to a level where farmers understand it as a business, it will improve their livelihoods.”
Ensuring animal health is a goal of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, especially in light of threats to them, including unsustainable agriculture, pesticide abuse and intensive monoculture production.
Pollination is critical to the maintenance of plant biodiversity, the survival of the world’s ecosystems, with about 75 percent of crops — which produce fruit and other seeds for human consumption — dependent, at least in part, on pollinators, including bees, the FAO said.
Pollinator-friendly practices include crop rotation and diversity, reduce the use of pesticides and restore and protect their habitat. Even the adoption of precision farming tools and innovation can protect bees, the agency said.
To help better protect pollinators, the agency on Thursday hosted and co-organized the second International Symposium on Beekeeping Biosecurity, bringing participants up-to-date on the latest developments in bee biosecurity and the initiatives being implemented by the international organizations involved in various areas of the world to ensure continued health.
Celebrating bees worldwide
“World Bee Day has contributed significantly to raising awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators and to promoting international cooperation to protect them,” said Nataša Pirc Musar, President of the Republic of Slovenia.
Her country initiated the establishment of a World Bee Day 2016 at a regional FAO conference for Europe and co-created more than 300 pollinator projects with partners on all continents, she said.
For its part, the United Nations marked World Bee Day with an FAO-hosted global ceremony that emphasized the importance of these hard-working pollinators.
Under the theme of pollinator-friendly agricultural production, the event drew attention to the threats endangering these insects and the need to address them.
On the Monday event at UN Headquarters will showcase best practices and innovative projects to raise awareness of bees’ contribution to environmental and social resilience.
“Protecting bees and other pollinators is essential to guarantee agricultural production, food security, ecosystem restoration and plant healthsaid FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu.
As beekeeper Moreno Veliz said, “bees are extremely intelligent insects. They are beautiful animals.”
What do you know about bees?
Get the FAO quiz right here and find out more below:
- FAO plays a leading role in facilitating and coordinating the International Pollinators Initiative and is committed to promoting policies that support biological pest control and limit the use of pesticides through Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculturewhich aims to build greater habitat diversity in agricultural and urban environments.
- Three out of four crops worldwide that produce fruit or seeds for human food depend, at least in part, on pollinators.
- Protecting bees protects biodiversity, as most pollinators are wild, including over 20,000 species of bees.
- Pollinator-dependent food products contribute to healthy diet and nutrition.
- Improving pollinator density and diversity increases yields – pollinators affect 35 percent of global agricultural land and support the production of 87 of the world’s leading food crops.
- Almost 75 percent of the world’s crops that produce fruit and seeds for human consumption depend, at least in part, on pollinators.