The Australian honey bee plays a vital role in the country’s agricultural industry, currently reaping the benefits of a rapidly expanding middle class in China, which demands higher quality food.
But the “worst year on record” for Australian bees and the threat of the varroa mite has put a kink in the country’s honey supply chain, causing concern amongst bee keepers and agricultural industry leaders.
Australia’s Food and Grocery Council says if the honey industry was to decline, the Australian food manufacturing sector would be affected.
If the government fails to protect the country from threats such as the varroa mite, the economy could risk losing up to $2 billion a year, the value of the nation’s pollination services.
The threat to “Australia’s beekeeping and pollination service, and as a result our agricultural industry, is real” says the CSIRO.
A spokesman for Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said $600 million will be allocated to Australia’s biosecurity services this financial year to manage the risks to the environment and the honey bees.
But Beechworth Honey’s Jodie Goldsworthy says it is not enough.
“In Australia we have accepted a defeatist position.
“For politicians it’s the easiest and cheapest option to say, ‘It’s not if we get it (varroa) but when we get it’. I don’t think that’s good enough.”
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