Azerbaijan to reduce honey import

Azerbaijan to reduce honey import

17 September 2019, 16:53 237

We intend to prevent honey import to Azerbaijan, said Badraddin Hasratov, head of the Azerbaijan Beekeepers Association. He noted that a letter has already been sent to the country's leadership in this regard. "There is such tendency in world practice. Imports are restricted to protect the domestic production market. After taking such a step, countries such as Turkey and Israel have experienced greater growth in domestic production. There has been so much development in Turkey that it is now ranked second in the world. If we can do this, beekeeping in Azerbaijan will grow rapidly,” he said.

According to Hasratov, the proposal was put forward by the association.

But how much is annual honey production in Azerbaijan? Does the production meet demand? If ban on honey imports is applied, will there be a rise in domestic prices?

Economic expert Rashad Hasanov said that a competitive environment should be created in the market. "In some cases, states are taking steps to restrict certain products in terms of protecting domestic production. Also, sometimes, steps such as increasing product duties are used to increase price competitiveness. Therefore, it makes sense. However, the complete suspension or prohibition on imports of any type of product is not permitted under market conditions. Otherwise, domestic prices will rise sharply. This can indirectly lead to lower consumption and purchasing power. Against the background of declining consumption, production is also decreasing,” he noted.

According to the expert, all these are cyclical processes. "Therefore, the creation of a competitive environment in the market is essential to prevent such situations. The main point is the ability of local producers to compete in the market. At the same time, the government may revise its duty rate policy to ensure price competition. The duty on import of honey is 15%, which is the maximum duty rate. In this case, control mechanisms should be strengthened. Import of low quality honey products can be prevented. This method may create more favorable conditions for local production,” said Hasanov.

Agricultural expert Nijat Nasirli said that according to official figures, honey production in the country has grown to over 5,000 tons in recent years. "According to global indicators, each consumer should eat more than 1 kg of honey a year. If the import of honey is restricted, it may stimulate domestic production. When we talk with beekeepers, we see that some people have not even been able to sell their products for years. Honey produced in the country is able to supply the domestic market. But it is necessary to organize its sales channels. I think marketing should be strengthened in this direction. Today everybody wants to get pure honey. But very few people know its standards. Beekeeping regions should be specialized,” he pointed out.

The expert said that beekeeping is involved in the subsidy program and beekeepers have already completed the organization process. "The Beekeepers Association and the Beekeepers Union have been established for each region. This organization primarily determines the strategic goals of beekeeping. Beekeepers can now develop themselves freely. In addition, state support stimulates this process. Each bee family receives 10 manat subsidies. One of the main problems is that raw materials are expensive in honey production. This is due to the high cost of beekeeping equipment, medicines and breeding bees. All of this has an effect on the net worth of honey as it is imported from abroad. Currently, the cheapest honey in Azerbaijan fluctuates between 20-30 manat and is not accessible to consumers. Therefore, I think that measures should be taken to reduce the cost of honey. For example, local raw materials may be created in Azerbaijan. The equipment and medicines, as well as breeding bees imported from Turkey should be formed in Azerbaijan. On the other hand, I agree with the head of the association. There is a large import of honey to our country. Therefore, the domestic market is dominated by imported honey. Honey is imported mainly from Iran. As you know, Iran has a large amount of honey production. Georgia is the second country from which honey is imported to Azerbaijan,” he said.

According to Nasirli, another problem is the sale of counterfeit honey in the markets. "Since people are unaware, they get fake honey made from juice. Such counterfeit honey is sold in major grocery stores and other shops. I think that the import of honey may be restricted. But local honey prices should be accessible to people. Each year, a month-long fair is held with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture. This is a step towards improving beekeeping's image. Formation of such sales networks is an important issue,” he noted. "Honey is a product that is produced in mountains, forests, and inaccessible places. Not every beekeeper has the opportunity to bring honey to the market. In this sense, it is important to create such sales channels. One of the serious problems is the issue of labeling and setting standards. There are a few local honey products labeled in Azerbaijan. But Georgia, Iran, and Russia are serious competitors. In these countries, a large part of beekeeping products are packaged and branded. I think the Beekeeping Association should work in this direction. Honey standards should be established and labeling activities should be carried out. Because there is no information on where the honey sold in the market is produced.”

Shabnam Mehdizade