Bulgaria Will Produce Less than 10,000 Tonnes of Honey in 2017

Bulgaria Will Produce Less than 10,000 Tonnes of Honey in 2017

Bulgaria Will Produce Less than 10,000 Tonnes of Honey in 2017

Varna, on the Black Sea, September 12 (BTA) - The production of honey in this country will fall below 10,000 tonnes this year, Union of Bulgarian Beekeepers (UBB) Chairman Mihail Mihailov predicted in a BTA interview.

Between 10,000 and 10,500 tonnes of honey were produced in 2016, but probably less than 10,000 tonnes will be made this year, Mihailov said. He specified that annual honey production in Bulgaria varies between 6,000 and 12,000 tonnes.

The yield is relatively good in the Northeast, along the River Danube and in the Thracian Valley, but the situation is disastrous in Southwestern Bulgaria, he pointed out.

Some 70-75 per cent of Bulgarian honey is exported to EU Member States or to third countries, Mihailov said, noting that this brings revenue to the public purse. The rest is left with the beekeepers, and part is used for feeding the bees and is sold on the domestic market.

According to the UBB Chairman, the retail price of honey in this country is realistic, but the wholesale price is not. The most popular multi-flower honey can be bought at 4 leva/kg wholesale and 10 leva/kg retail. Organic honey is more expensive: 5-6 leva/kg wholesale and 12 leva/kg retail. The retail price is between 50 and 100 per cent higher than the wholesale price, which the UBB Chairman finds normal. In his words, traders and processors keep the difference.

Mihailov is adamant that the wholesale price of honey needs to be increased substantially. He argues that the wholesale purchase price must be at least 6 leva/kg for conventional honey and 8 leva/kg for organic honey, because the latter is subject to numerous restrictions.

Statistics put the number of working beekeepers in Bulgaria at some 19,000, but they steadily decrease, Mihailov commented. He specified that these are beekeepers registered as farm animal holdings, which is mandatory. Young people, too, are attracted to beekeeping, mainly by the farmer support programmes, Mihailov said. It is a family business which is often handed down from father to son to grandson, he noted.

As few as 2,000-3,000 beekeepers apply under the farmer support programmes annually, the UBB Chairman said, noting that this is a small fraction of the 19,000 beekeepers in this country. In his words, eligibility for support under the programme is limited to beekeepers registered as self-employed agricultural producers. This is financially unfeasible for small operations with 50 or fewer hives because the beekeepers's expenditures on social insurance and hive keeping are sometimes double the amount of support he would get under the programme.

The national programme for beekeepers allocates sufficient funding, in the order of 7 million leva per year or some 20-21 million leva for the three-year period. The resources are unevenly distributed among the measures, and the measure for hives, queen bees and swarms attracts most interest, Mihailov said.

This year beekeepers were cut off de minimis State aid, which is approximately 7 million leva and can come handy for purchasing medicines, feed, etc.

Source: Varna, on the Black Sea