Jafri Safar

SUNGAI PETANI: Jafri Safar believes the kelulut (stingless honey bee) industry he is engaged in has great potential to be a thriving agro-tourism product.

The 52-year-old entrepreneur already entertains between 200 and 300 tourists every month at one of his three farms — in Merbok, Sungai Petani and Sik — in Kedah where, with the help of his son, he has set up 1,300 hives for about 50 species of the stingless bee since 2012.

“I focus on the production of honey at the farms in Sungai Petani and Sik. The Merbok farm caters to agro-tourism and serves as a learning centre as well. I have built a gallery and exhibition area for the benefit of tourists,” the operator of Ladang Madu Kelulut Merbuk SAF told Bernama.

Jafri Safar

Kedah Agriculture Department director Ramli Abdul Rahman said the department provides various kinds of aid to the stingless bee breeders to grow their business and promote it as an agro-tourism product as well.

“These entrepreneurs comprise beginners who have just a few hives, the intermediate breeders who have many hives on a farm and the advanced farmers who also have a sales centre, gallery and other facilities.

“We provide aid such as hives, bottling methods and other advisory services to nurture them into advanced stingless bee entrepreneurs,” he told Bernama.

Ramli also said that the State Agriculture Department is well aware of the potential of the stingless bee farms in the state as agro-tourism destinations and is identifying effective ways to promote them.

“The department has been doing some promotion as well. It recommends certain destinations to enquiring agro-tourism agents.

“However, we see the need for cooperation with tourism industry agents and players for the purpose so that we can insert the visits to the farms in the tourism package,” he said.

Last November, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry launched the National Kelulut Honey Industry Development Plan 2020-2030 that aims to make the kelulut honey industry a new source of stable and sustainable income.

Nevertheless, Jafri said, the industry is not without its challenges.

He said the relevant quarters must give serious attention to the uncontrolled dumping of kelulut honey products which are not made in accordance with standards.

“Now, anyone can sell the kelulut honey. We do not have any control to ensure the quality and originality of the products in our market.

“Besides, I was also informed by a food technology expert that eight out of 10 bottles of any honey are a mixture and not original,” he told Bernama.

As such, the entrepreneur urged the government to quickly introduce guidelines and standards for the kelulut honey to protect its potential as a health food product. – Bernama