Members of the Beekeepers Network Foundation Philippines (BEENET Philippines) assailed the new order of the Department of Agriculture transferring official control and regulatory requirements of the Honeybee Industry from the Bureau of Plant Industry to the Bureau of Animal Industry.
The transfer is by virtue of Department of Agriculture Administrative Order 14, Series of 2012 issued by Sec. Proceso J. Alcala.
BEENET members who consist of bee researchers, extension specialists and beekeepers claim that the Bureau of Plant Industry is the right agency that should handle the regulatory functions.
As in the past, the BPI has been handling the quarantining of imported bees in collaboration with UP Los Baños. The BPI and UPLB, they said, have strict requirements for importation of beekeeping materials. According to them, the BPI is the right agency to oversee the activities in connection with bee culture because bees are potential vectors of plant diseases.
They point out that in the UK and in the US, bees are under the Plant Protection Division of the Department of Agriculture.
Moreover, a pest of bees, the small hive beetle, also infests avocado, mango, pineapple, papaya and other fruits. It therefore makes sense that phytosanitary personnel should handle this job.
BEENET members claim that everything was in place until Sec. Alcala issued DA –AO 14 wherein the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) will coordinate with the National Apiculture Research, Training and Development Institute (NARTDI) which was created by law in 2000.
According to BEENET Philippines, NARTDI has not lived up to its mandate since its inception. It has failed to produce queen bees which is their number one mandate for the last 12 years. The failure of NARTDI to produce quality queen bees has forced the beekeepers to import their own which translates to higher expenses and possible losses.
Beekeeping in the Philippines is a growing industry with about 600 big and small players nationwide.
In the meantime, DA Undersecretary Emerson U. Palad relayed to the BEENET members that Sec. Alcala’s position is that “he will not revoke AO 14.”
Joel Magsaysay of Ilog Maria and founding president of BEENET said that they appreciate the fact that Sec. Alcala realizes the importance of bees in agriculture, more so the allocation of funds for bees. However, he said he can’t help wondering that now that there is funding, why is there a need to change and alter the way things have been run?
The BEENET members say that eversince, private beekeepers have not been receiving any assistance from the government, specifically the Department of Agriculture. Assistance was limited to the technical services of UP Los Banos through its Bee Program in terms of bee pest and diseases diagnosis and management, bee product analysis and pollination advisory. Other state colleges and universities also offer training.