Unregulated use of agrochemicals in northern is posing threats to bee farming.

todayMarch 21, 2023

Ojok Robert

Gulu City

Approximately 1.2 million people are involved in the apiculture sector countrywide according to Value Chain Analysis of the Honey Sub-sector in Uganda under Development of Inclusive Markets in Agriculture and Trade of 2012. The main honey-producing areas in Uganda are the West Nile region, Northern Uganda, and the Western Uganda. With northern Uganda producing 124,000 metric tones out of 500,000 metric tons produced nationally.
Besides honey, the sector produces propolis, wax, and venom for cosmetic, medicinal, food, and other purposes. These products are mostly produced for the internal market and largely informal export predominantly to the neighbouring countries of Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the UK, Dubai, and Switzerland. Unregulated use of agrochemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides is costing bee colonies in the districts of Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya, Oyam, Terego, and Arua.

The district entomology officer for Gulu Alfonse Acaye says over years bee population has greatly reduced due to the death of bees in large numbers over years. According to Acaye, the bee population is at decreasing levels because “we used to see bee colonies passing over the compound but today one hardly to see the bee colonies flying over the homestead, a sign that there is a decline in bees” “its hard to get bees in branches of trees, walls on the buildings, or even holes in the ant hill or even hear of bee colony swarming in our villages” Acaye added.
In Terego district, tobacco farming has affected bee farmers in the area. Juliet Munduru who owns more than 60 beehives has suffered the negative consequences of fertilizer use causing regular decolonization of her bee hives where her annual harvest has reduced to 200 from 270 kilograms in previous year with loss of colonies. Other farmers are using chemicals for their crop’s fertilizers especially tobacco and sunflowers farmers. I recorded a loss of colonies between October last year and February this year so far 5-hives have been decolonized, Munduru said.

Robert Oboke bee farmer from the Minakulu sub-county in Oyam district was involved in apiculture for close to 12 years but he has lost several colonies.
“I had 50 local beehives and Kenya's top bar given by world vision but now I have downscaled my bee business because of the increasing growing of sunflower, increasing wind storm,s and of late use of agrochemicals being used in some plants like maize, soya bean and groundnuts that have caused the death of many bees and loss of colonies”, Oboke said. I went to Tanzania for a bench marking tour and realized that killing a bee call for a jail term of 1-month in Tanzania which we don’t have such laws and restrictions in Uganda, Oboke added  

The changing and increasing effects of global climate change are a major impact on the apiculture sector. Alfred Bayo the director of API honey Africa Limited says the government is not doing enough to regulate the use of agronomic chemicals. According to Bayo, the use of agronomic chemicals has greatly affected the natural habitat for bees and forage for feeding bees. Bayo who has his organization spread in the west Nile subregion and Ibanda district in western Uganda said the quantity of bee products that they harvest annually has reduced to less than 10 thousand tones annually.
Bayo added that recent aerial spray for Locusts in the Karamoja Sub-region has greatly affected bee farming in the area.
Areas like Atiak Lakang, Laima, and Amuru sub-counties in Amuru district with many private commercial farms have noted poor crop yields. Michael Lakony the district chairperson reveals that even fish in the streams and rivers boarding those farms
Br. Charles Lagu principal of Adraa Agricultural college in Madi-Okollo district says rapid assessment done in West Nile sub-region show continued loss of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous due to the use of chemical fertilizer. Charles Lagu however implores various stakeholders to regulate the use of chemical fertilizers as per the Fertilizer policy to protect macroorganisms like insects and fish.

District chairperson of Nwoya Emmanuel Orac says Nwoya is drafting of food policy that would help to address challenges relating to the increasing decolonization of bee colonies. According to Orac, a private company lost billion of shillings exporting maize with high chemical content in Kenya which such chemical components may negatively affect human health.
Last year in November, Uganda national drugs Authority closed 48 veterinary drug shops within Acholi and Lango sub-regions in an operation to curb sales of unauthorized drugs and agronomic chemicals. Abiaz Rwamwiri, the NDA Spokesperson says the Ministry of Agriculture and the ministry of health are yet to synergize to enforce regulations on sales and distributions of counterfeit agrochemicals.
There are discussions about the harmonious work of agrochemical boards and the national drugs Authority to have joint enforcement and quality assurance. “If we are not careful, we shall not only destroy insects but even human lives”, said Rwamwiri 
Henry Latigo the funder of Wild Aid Uganda a developer of organic pesticides based in Nwoya district challenges farmers to embrace the local chemicals and manure to conserve biodiversity,  The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa last month condemned the practice by some European Union member states of exporting banned pesticides and products to developing countries including Uganda. During a parliamentary conference on Africa, the Caribbean, and the pacific in the Belgian capital, Brussels, Tayebwa said that developing countries don’t have the capacity to take on the EU independently, noting that “speaking against this with one voice gives us an advantage.

In 2013, Beekeepers proposed to the cabinet to pass the National Apiculture Policy so as to increase the production and marketing of large quantities of quality hive products.
On May 4, 2016, Cabinet approved the National Fertilizer Policy, its strategy, and its investment plan for Uganda. According to the International Code of Pest Management by FAO and WHO. Pesticides categorized as 1A or 1B by WHO by the Globally Harmonized System on Classification and Labelling of Chemicals substances banned under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants listed in the Rotterdam Convention and other pesticides that show a high incidence of severe or irreversible adverse effects on human health or the environment.
The International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management guides on best practices in managing pesticides throughout their lifecycle – from production to disposal particularly where there is inadequate or no national legislation to regulate pesticides.

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