Wednesday, August 17

Quality local honey to get new label


KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries will look into creating a new bio label for quality honey produced by local bees.Deputy Chief Minister cum Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin said local honey faced obstacle in marketing as the international quality standards for honey are based on the Western honey bee Apis mellifera.

“Local honeys are a valuable and important component of a healthy diet, as our traditions have proven for centuries,” he said at the launch of a book entitled ‘Honey Bees of Borneo’ here yesterday.

He said the label would be developed with the assistance of the research group at Agriculture Research Station (ARS) Tenom and Sabah Rural Development Corporation (KPD).

Yahya also lamented on the lack of traditional local honey products in the market.

“Looking for honey we find a variety of imported honeys from Australia, China, USA and many other foreign countries.”

Yahya added that rural communities could earn extra income from commercial beekeeping and the sale of honey and beeswax.

“I gather a beekeeper only needs to check his beehives every 10 days, and since rural farming system contains a mixture of fruit trees, coconut palms, coffee trees and food crops, here is an opportunity to utilise these crops as a source of nectar and pollen for the honey bees for the production of honey.”

One of the authors of the book, Dr Gudrun Koeniger, also said a state controlled organic label should be explored by authorities for locally produced honey of indigenous bees.

In her speech, she said produce by Asian bees were regarded as inferior because their honey is not of Apis mellifera.

“The downgrading of local honey and honey bees as a consequence of false compa­rison to Apis mellifera standards had, and still has a negative impact on the development of keeping and protecting local honey bees.

Gudrun added that more research needed to be done on the composition of honeys of Asian bees. She suggested KPD and ARS Tenom to design and control a quality standard for organic Sabah honey.

“Sabah honey bees are never treated with medications and in many parts of Borneo where Apis dorsata and Apis cerana are harvested, they are not polluted by industry or agriculture.

“Already now beekeepers and honey hunters market a produce which meets the highest demands of purity and quality.”