Lawmakers in southern Spain have promised unwavering support for the region’s beekeepers amid concerns about cheap exports, heatwaves and hive thefts.
Andalusian Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Carmen Crespo, told apiarists at a summit in Seville the regional government would continue providing financial support in the foreseeable future after having provided subsidies worth EUR 3.5 million (GBP 3.1 million) last year.
Referring to Spain’s immense imports of honey and cheap syrup products from Eastern Europe and China, the minister said: “The regional government will keep fighting for improved product labelling regulations. Customers must find it easy to determine where honey originates from.”
Beekeepers recently took to the streets to voice their concerns regarding Spain’s disputed foodstuff import policy.
Antonio Vazquez – who represents apiarists at the agricultural organisation COAG – warned during a protest event in Santander, northern Spain. “If the label does not clearly indicate that a product comes from Spain, the jar probably contains some kind of syrup.”
He criticised that 7,500 tonnes of honey had been shipped to the country from China between January and November of last year despite Spain being the leading producer of honey among the EU-27.
The country’s beekeepers manage nearly three million honeybee hives.
Meanwhile, the regional government of Andalusia plans to digitalise the subsidisation application checking procedure to reduce the time span beekeepers have to wait for the money.
Minister Crespo also promised more support to prevent the theft of hives.
Crespo furthermore revealed she has appealed to the federal government to exempt all Andalusian beekeepers from any taxes.
The minister argued: “The sector has suffered dramatically during the drought of 2022. Spain as a whole, and the south in particular, have been seriously affected.”
There are 5,676 apiaries – which feature more than 643,000 hives altogether – in Andalusia, the southernmost community of Spain.
Andalusia has around 8.5 million inhabitants. More than 6,500 tonnes of honey and 323 tonnes of beeswax are produced there each year.