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Life cycle assessment of small-scale honey production in Mendoza, Argentina - The influence of pollinization services
Conferencia; CILCA 2021; 2021
Beekeeping activity is recognized not only for the high biological value products and services it provides to crop pollination, but also for its contribution to regional development with rural employment generation and low barriers to entry, particularly in the primary stage.The evolution of world natural honey production had a positive trend: in the last 27 years an average annual increase of 1.7% was observed. The world minimum production was recorded in 1996 (1,096,758 t) while the maximum was in 2015 (1,825,752 t).Argentina is the country with the largest number of hives in the Southern Hemisphere. Approximately 95% of Argentinian honey production is exported, where 97% correspond to natural honey. Export destinations are poorly diversified; they are concentrated in the USA (48%) and Germany (26%). Even though, domestic demand is low, the current trend toward a better quality of life, consumption of natural and healthy products with features that benefit the health, show a possible increase in local demand.Beekeeping production in Argentina is present in most provinces of the country but maintains a higher incidence in the Central Region (Buenos Aires province concentrates around 50% of national production). The rest is distributed to beekeepers in small and medium scale companies with limited financial resources. Only in recent years export consortia have been created in order to facilitate access of small beekeepers to foreign trade. Unlike large exporters who export "honey mixture" bulk, the consortia are seeking to boost their sales by increasing the added value of their production through product differentiation and the adaptation to the requirements of quality and sustainability imposed by major buyers: the Union European and the United States. Currently operate nine consortia in Argentina, one of them in Cuyo region whose honey is recognized worldwide for its high quality organoleptic and physico-chemical properties obtained on the basis of the vast unspoiled native vegetation.This study was carried out in order to evaluate the environmental impact of honey production in Mendoza, one of the main producing provinces in the Cuyo region. A life cycle analysis of small-scale production was carried out. The data set represents the production of 1 kilogram of processed and packaged honey. The inventory was modeled from the database elaborated by the CLIOPE group in previous projectsi. Adjustments were made in the mass balance and in the flows of the packing stage. The analyzed system includes the hives construction, its management, the honey collection and extraction, and finally its packaging. An economic allocation was made taking into account honey, beeswax and nuclei (commercial packages of live bees used to start a new hive).Considering the great influence of beekeeping in increasing fruit-horticultural production in the Cuyo region, the study includes an additional analysis that incorporates pollination services. In this complementary study, 3 allocation scenarios were considered: i) No pollination services; ii) Pollination services to increase the production of local fruit trees (such as almonds, cherries, plums, etc.); iii) Pollination services for the production of local vegetable seeds (such as onion). The impact categories included in the CML-IA baseline V3.05 / World 2000 method were evaluated.The results show that the main environmental impacts of honey production are due to the production of sugar used in the manufacture of food supplements for bees, to the production of PVC containers. The standardized results show that the most relevant impact categories are: Human Toxicity (HTx), Photochemical Oxidation (PO) and Aquatic Ecotoxicity (FATx).Regarding the Global warming category (100a), the impact was 0.233 kg CO2e. The most relevant processes are: emissions from inputs and hives transport (28%), the transfer of hives between production sites (between two and three times a year, towards the end of the flowering stage of different plant species) and the PVC containers production (19% each).The analysis of pollination services shows a reduction in the impacts obtained in the baseline scenario. The most relevant reductions are observed in the category Photochemical oxidation (25% on average), Terrestrial ecotoxicity, and Human toxicity (17% and 16.5% respectively). Regarding global warming, the reductions are 3% and 5% in each of the scenarios considered. In all cases, the third scenario is the most environmentally benign. These results are useful for producers interested in improving their supply chain from the environmental point of view.