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Tunisia’s honey production hit by global warming

Beekeepers in Mannouba, Tunisia. The country has 305,000 hives Reuters/Jihed Abidellaoui
Beekeepers in Mannouba, Tunisia. The country has 305,000 hives
  • Honey production almost halved
  • Sector hit by droughts and wildfires
  • Harvests and dairy also affected

Almost three-quarters of beekeepers in Tunisia have seen their honey production curtailed by climate change.

The North African country has 305,000 hives tended by 13,000 beekeepers, according to Hassene Ben Salem, chief engineer at the Office of Livestock and Pastures.

But he said extreme weather conditions have almost halved honey production, from an average of 8kg of honey per hive to only 4-5kg in 2023.

The beekeeping sector in Tunisia contributes 0.1 percent of GDP and 1 percent of agricultural GDP, according to research from the Egyptian Journal of Agricultural Sciences.

Speaking at a national workshop on beekeeping in Tunisia, Ben Salem also highlighted the threats to the sector from parasites, invasive diseases and the use of pesticides, as reported by news agency Tunis Afrique Presse.

The global beekeeping market is projected to grow from almost $12 billion in 2024 to nearly $19 billion by 2032, at a compound annual growth rate of almost 6 percent, research from Fortune Business Insights suggests.

In recent years Tunisia has witnessed soaring temperatures that have exceeded 46C (115F), which have started wildfires and caused widespread droughts, leaving parts of the country without water for weeks.

In March the World Bank approved loans worth $520 million to address Tunisia’s food security challenge.

According to the World Food Programme, Tunisia’s dependence on agricultural imports, exacerbated by economic challenges and high inflation, has led to food shortages.

It said the drought has diminished harvests, destabilised dairy production and hit olive crops. As a result, levels of malnutrition have increased and now affect 30 percent of children under 5 and 32 percent of pregnant and breastfeeding women.

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