As commercial beekeeping is fast becoming a thriving business in rural areas, Pakistan has established a Honeybee Research Laboratory with the cooperation of Turkey to bolster the production of quality honey in the country. The laboratory was inaugurated at a ceremony at the National Agriculture Research Center in Islamabad on Wednesday. Speaking on the occasion, Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul expressed the commitment to further promote cooperation with Pakistan in different fields. He pointed out that all the countries in the world are faced with the issue of food security. He said both Pakistan and Turkey can work together to ensure their food security. In his remarks on the occasion, Chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council Muhammad Azeem Khan thanked the Turkish assistance in the establishment of Honeybee Research Laboratory. He said Pakistan is producing quality honey and the establishment of the laboratory will help it further enhance the production of quality honey as per the modern standards. Muhammad Azeem Khan said that training of bee keepers is part of Pakistan-Turkey cooperation. He said, “We can get better price of our honey in the world market by acquiring the international certification.” According to the All Pakistan Beekeepers Trade and Exporters Association, besides providing new job opportunities to thousands of men and women, the business is helping the country earn foreign exchange through exports, mainly to Middle Eastern countries. Around $6 million in foreign exchange is earned annually through honey exports to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait, said the association. Pakistan currently produces around 7,500 metric tons of honey annually, with more than 8,000 beekeepers rearing exotic species in one million beehives, according to the government’s Honeybee Research Institute in Islamabad (HBRI). In the financial year 2018-2019, Pakistan exported honey worth 966 million rupees ($5.8 million), about 260 million rupees more than the year before, according to the institute. Raza Khan, president of the All Pakistan Beekeepers Trade and Exporters Association, said Pakistan is producing hundred percent organic honey through modern bee farming, and demand was increasing, particularly in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait. “Our honey is unique in the world for its natural taste, color and texture,” Raza Khan said. “Therefore, its demand abroad is growing fast,” he added, urging the government to provide more incentives to boost the business and grant industry status to commercial beekeeping. Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the “Billion Tree Honey Initiative” in December last year with the aim of increasing honey production to 70,000 metric tons in a year. The government estimates the project will help generate around 43 billion rupees ($268 million) for the national economy and provide about 87,000 green jobs. Under the program, the government has pledged to increase the plantation of specific trees and flora to improve the quality and production of honey, as well as grant interest-free loans to traders.