An outlook on the Romanian beekeeping sector.
occupation with a long history in Romania, has developed significantly in the
past years. People who go into this business know that there is no need for any
substantial investment, and the money can be recovered in approximately two
year's time. In the beginning they can only have 5 to 10 families, which
requires an investment of no more than 1500 Euro. A bee family can produce 20
to 25 kg of honey. Professional beekeepers can get a profit of 70-80 lei for
each bee family. As regards production, Romania ranks fourth in the EU, after
Germany, France and Hungary. In terms of number of bee families, Romania ranks
7th in Europe, with over 40,000 beekeepers at national level.
However, if we talk about consumption, Romanians rank last in the EU. Romanians
eat both locally produced and foreign honey, the latter coming particularly
from China and Latin America, which is blended with domestic varieties and sold
as being Romanian. Here is Ioan Fetea, the director of the Beekeepers'
beekeepers' association, responsible for the development of beekeeping since
1958, when the association was set up, has managed to maintain a good
tradition, in the sense that we have managed to gather together over 22,000
beekeepers, who keep a total of 1.5 million bee families. Every year we make
sure the legislative framework supports this sector. Also, we are very much
interested in promoting it, in the sense of stimulating the increase in honey
consumption, because Romania is still lagging behind in this matter. We are at
the bottom of the list in Europe, with a consumption less than 500 grams per
capita, as compared to countries such as France, Italy or the Nordic countries,
where people eat 2 to 3 kg of honey. Consumption has grown significantly in
Romania as well, however, in the past 10 years, and we hope it will keep
growing, because it is a pity for only half of the production to be consumed,
and the rest to be exported. I'm saying this because Romanian honey is
exceptionally good, its qualities are well-known abroad, and it wins prizes and
awards at each and every fair or exhibition that it participates in. Romania
exports honey, but I hope that in the next 15-25 years we will no longer
export, but consume it, and even get to import high-quality honey. It's a pity
that we export health and bring in all sorts of rubbish."
Romania's climate is excellent for beekeeping, the
country being a genuine beekeepers' paradise from March to October, with
surfaces covered in linden and acacia trees, various fruit trees, and
sunflower. Organic honey made in Romania is also famous all over the world.
There are over 100 thousand registered bee families, which account for the
3000-4000 tons of organic honey produced every year. Experts believe that
Romania has an even bigger potential for developing this sector, mainly because
the honey produced in Romania's hilly and mountainous regions as well as in the
Danube Delta, accounting for 25% of the total honey production, is organic,
although it hasn't been certified as organic, because no pesticides,
fertilizers and antibiotics have been used to treat bee families. This is one
of the EU-imposed conditions for honey exporters. Here is Ioan Fetea again.
"Romania exports between 10
and 12 thousand tons to the USA, Japan, Arab countries, and Europe. The biggest
importer of Romanian honey is Germany, which processes and mixes it with honey
coming from other countries and resells it. Europe, which is a big consumer of
honey, has a production of 200 thousand tons, but its consumption is double."
The National Beekeeping Programme has been made
available for Romanian beekeepers. In the period between 2014 - 2016,
beekeepers got 20 million Euros worth of aid, and the government has recently
approved an additional 30.2 million euros in aid.
"Financial support for
beekeepers translates into the National Beekeeping Programme, which applies in
several directions: treatment for bee families, the purchase of biological
material and equipment, and even technical assistance. Beekeepers can have
access to roughly 7 million euros through this programme. There are also other
European funds, such as the one for the young farmers, but eligibility criteria
have become very strict in recent years. That's why we are recommended to find
solutions and go into mixed ventures, with fruit-growing or other forms of
farming in order to get access to these funds."
Over 2,700 farmers below 40 years of age have gained
access to 25,000 Euros in EU funds for setting up new farm ventures. A quarter
of them decided to invest in beekeeping. Under the new Rural Development
Programme young farmers can access up to 50 thousand euros in non-reimbursable
funds to begin a business in agriculture.