EghtesadOnline: Aregulation that mandates standards for honey production will come into effect in the current Iranian year (started March 20), in collaboration with the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran, according to the executive of the Agriculture Ministry’s “Apiculture Expansion Project”.
“Honey production based on mandatory standards will help prevent synthetically-made and low quality honey from entering the market. Many people are taking advantage of the honey market by producing fake honey,” Moshir Ghaffari was also quoted as saying by the news portal of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, adding that it is very difficult and costly to distinguish original honey from fake.
The official noted that the Agriculture Ministry has asked knowledge-based companies to help identify natural and fake honey through more cost-effective methods.
According to Ghaffari, Iran enjoys a variety of climates, which makes it possible to produce 53 types of honey.
“Iran exports 1,400-1,500 tons of honey every year while the capacity stands at around 5,000 tons annually,” he said.
A total of 112,000 tons of honey were produced in Iran last year (March 2019-20), showing a 24% increase compared with the previous year.
The official noted that 2,223 tons of beewax were produced during the same period, registering a 134% rise year-on-year.
"What's more, 3,288 tons of royal jelly were derived from the hives last year,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Per capita honey consumption in Iran annually stands at 1.3 kilogram.
West Azarbaijan, East Azarbaijan and Ardabil top the list of Iranian provinces where honey is produced.
“Based on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ latest ranking, Iran is the world’s fourth biggest honey producer after China, Turkey and Argentina. Moreover, Iran ranks the fourth biggest honeybee colony owner after India, China and Turkey,” Ghaffari was quoted as saying in earlier comments.
The above-mentioned rankings, he explained, pertain to 2017, noting that the Agriculture Ministry has sent new data gained from a recent census to FAO for the figures to be updated and revised.
CEO of Beekeeping Industry Expansion Support Fund Behzad Bankipour says around 1,500 tons of Iranian honey were exported last year (March 2019-20), 75% of which were shipped to the neighboring Turkey.
The official says no honey exports have been made so far this year.
“Over the past five years, Iran’s beekeeping industry has shifted its focus from producing only one main product, namely honey, to producing other bee secretions such as royal jelly and bee venom,” he added.
Average honey production in each modern Iranian hive, the official noted, amounts to around 11 kilograms.
According to Morteza Rezaei, deputy agriculture minister for livestock affairs, each gram of bee venom is exported for around $80.
“This sum is equal to one and a half barrels of oil. Bee venom is used in the production of pharmaceuticals, including steroids and painkillers,” IRNA reported.
Around 100,000 people are currently engaged in Iran’s beekeeping industry.
Beekeeping in Iran dates back to 2,000-3,000 years, though apiculture in its modern, industrial form started around three decades ago in Iran. Since then, the number of beekeepers and the amount of honey produced are increasing year by year.