Morocco – (AFP)
For breeding in the village of Anserky in southern Morocco, the silence came instead of the swarm of bees filling the large traditional farm space, where their bees disappeared in an environmental disaster that affected other parts of Morocco, experts say. This year was an exceptional drought.
“The bee hive at this time of year should fill that space, but now it’s spending at a higher rate,” sighed beekeeper Ibrahim Shedwi.
The farmer lost 40 of his 90 beekeeping units within two months, arranged on a collective farm in the middle of one of Morocco’s richest organ reserves.
Other families who used this unique farm were “forced to abandon beekeeping altogether because of a lack of capacity,” Shawvi adds.
Specialists classify the site as “the oldest and largest traditional collective farm in the world for beekeeping” and its establishment dates back to before 1850.
But the catastrophe that befell him was not isolated because it affected other parts of the kingdom as well.
Mohamed Soudani, an official with the Moroccan Beekeepers’ Association, warns that “the loss is huge, since about 100,000 units of honey production have been lost in the Kenifra Beni Melll (central) region since August alone.”
There are about 910,000 bee farms in Morocco, which are used by about 36,000 farmers according to 2019 figures.
But the disappearance of bees this year was so severe that the government set aside 130 million dirhams (about $ 13.5 million) to mitigate the catastrophic impact on farmers, but says support for it has not yet been paid. Southani.
The government has launched an investigation into the causes of the disaster, which has been handed over to the National Food Safety Office. The latter said in a statement that “the abandonment of bees on their farms is an unprecedented event in Morocco.”
He blamed climate change for the “decline of bees” and rejected the hypothesis of an epidemic.
In turn, researcher in beekeeping science, Antoine Adam, attributes the event to the drought that hit Morocco this year, the worst drought in 40 years.
However, in addition to the lack of rainfall, it is not excluded that bee disease is exacerbated by migration and the use of techniques to increase production in light of the country’s efforts to increase its honey production, according to a researcher who conducted research on beekeeping in southeastern Morocco.
Bee production in the country has increased by 69 percent in ten years, from 4.7 tonnes in 2009 to nearly eight tonnes in 2019, earning one billion dirhams (about $ 100 million) in revenue, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to beekeeper Ibrahim Shedvi, “Drought is a natural phenomenon, but its severity is a cause for concern this year.”
The village of Anserky was twice devastated because it also threatens the cultural heritage referred to in traditional collective beekeeping techniques.
The farm is simultaneously a simple and complex construction, made of soil and wood, rising in five layers and horizontally divided into equal cells.
Inside each box are placed round hives made of reeds wrapped in soil and cow dung.
The farm was recently classified as a National Heritage List.
But as some parts of this huge building are submerged by cracks, it raises fears that it is in danger of collapsing.
Human geologist Hassan Penaliat attributes the deterioration of this parameter to many changes in the region, including the modernization of production equipment and rural migration, but also climate change.
In addition, the number of bee keeping families on the collective farm has now dropped from 80 to about 20.
Penalty calls for “an urgent revival of this exceptional tradition.”
“The environment is very sensitive, but I will not give up,” says Shedwy, who founded an association with other villagers to protect the farm.
They fought to register the farm as unique in the national cultural heritage.
He concludes, “It is not our goal to produce honey ourselves, but especially to protect the farm and keep the bees alive, waiting for better days.”
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