TEHRAN (Press TV) - Iran’s ministry of agriculture (MAJ) is pressing for over $250 million in government loans for beekeepers in the country in a bid to offset losses that could afflict the world’s fourth largest honey maker because of a current dry season.
MAJ’s beekeeping contractor Hussein Akbarpour said that the 58 trillion rials worth of loans could help boost honey harvest this season and allow farmers to replace bee colonies that may suffer because of the lower precipitation.
Iran produced 112,500 metric tons of honey in the year to March, the fourth largest output in the world. The country has 10.6 million registered bee colonies.
Akbarpour said beekeepers would be able to use the government loans to improve their stocks of sugar and feed to compensate for lower raining this spring that could affect their produce. He said farmers would also access cheap loans to replace their lost colonies.
Reports over the winter had suggested that weather conditions had caused almost half of bee population in some of the Iranian provinces to die.
Akbarpour rejected the figure, saying bee death rate in the winter was 10-20% which he said was normal and consistent with global figures.
The MAJ supplied some 15,000 tons of ultracheap sugar to beekeepers over the winter, according to government figures which shows another 17,000 tons are currently available to the farmers at a higher subsidized rate.
Iran has introduced massive schemes to encourage higher agricultural output in recent years as the country seeks to rely more on the sector for both exports and for job creation.
The government has reported an average growth rate of nearly 10% in the agriculture sector in the past three years.
Total farming output reached 130 million tons this March, up by nearly a third against March 2013.