To harness the export potential of honey in line with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of a ‘Sweet Revolution’ through the promotion of beekeeping and allied activities, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has been giving thrust on boosting exports through ensuring quality production and market expansion to newer countries.
At present, India’s natural honey exports are majorly dependent on one market – the United States, which accounts for more than 80 per cent of the exports.
“We are working in close collaboration with the state government, farmers and other stakeholders in the value chain to boost exports to other countries and regions such as the United Kingdom, European Union and South East Asia,” Dr M Angamuthu, Chairman, APEDA said. India is also renegotiating the duty structure imposed by various countries for boosting honey exports.
APEDA has been facilitating honey producers in accessing export markets besides availing government assistance under different schemes, quality certification and lab testing.
APEDA is working with the exporters to deal with the challenges such as higher freight cost, limited availability of containers in peak honey export season, higher Nuclear Magnetic Resonance test costs and inadequate export incentives.
India exported 59,999 metric tonnes (MT) of natural honey worth Rs. 716 crore (US $ 96.77 million) during 2020-21, with the United States taking a major share at 44,881 MT. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh and Canada were the other top destinations for Indian honey. India started its first organized exports in the year 1996-97.
World honey exported in 2020 is 736,266.02 MT. India ranks 8th and 9th in the world in honey producing and exporting countries respectively.
The world honey production in 2019 was 1721 thousand metric tonnes. This includes honey from all nectar sources, agricultural plants, wild flowers and forest trees. China, Turkey, Canada, Argentina, Iran and USA are among the major honey-producing countries, accounting for 50% of total world production.
North East Region and Maharashtra are the key areas for natural honey production in the country. Around 50% of the honey produced in India is consumed domestically and the rest is exported across the globe. Honey exports have huge potential and especially in the COVID19 pandemic as its consumption has gone up globally as an effective immunity booster and a healthier alternative to sugar.
The Government of India approved allocation of Rs 500 crore for the National Beekeeping and Honey Mission (NBHM) for three years (2020-21 to 2022-23). The mission was announced as part of the AtmaNirbhar Bharat initiative in February 2021.
NBHM aims for the overall promotion & development of scientific beekeeping in the country to achieve the goal of ‘Sweet Revolution’ which is being implemented through National Bee Board (NBB). There is a budget of Rs.170 crore for the Mini mission. The purpose is for developing beekeeping in the country, developing honey clusters, improving quality and productivity of honey and also increasing exports.