Agri Ministry moves to expand honey production
John Myers and Rasbert Turner
The Ministry of Agriculture is moving to increase honey production to meet demand for Jamaican honey on the international market. Through its Apiculture Unit, the Ministry has been recruiting and training farmers in beekeeping. The first batch of 28 young farmers graduated from the Bodles Research Centre in St Catherine on 6 April 2006. This was at a cost of JM$2.1 million.
The 28 farmers were also given a grant of JM$71,000 each to assist with purchasing equipment for their farm. This initiative falls under the umbrella of the Ministry\'s Agricultural Development Strategy which seeks to train unemployed young people from rural communities in marketable agricultural skills, in order that they may achieve economic sustainability, Agriculture and Land Minister, Roger Clarke said.
The beekeeping industry is one of eight priority areas identified by the Ministry for development to generate employment and export earnings under the Agricultural Development Strategy.
So far a total of JM$4.1 million has been spent out of the JM$30 million that has been allocated for the development of the beekeeping industry. Reginald Peddy, Chief Apiculture Officer in the Apiculture Unit, said there is also a revolving loan programme that is available to existing bee farmers who want to improve and expand honey production. He said loans are awarded based on the farmers\' location, size of current operation, ability to adapt to training and to meet prescribed production targets.
Statistics from the Ministry\'s Data Bank show that honey production grew from 60,000 kg in 1997 to 77,000 kg in 2005. Data also showed that honey production per colony increased from 14.6 litres in 1997 to 34 litres in 2005. Mr Clarke credits this improvement on the Apiculture Unit\'s involvement in training farmers to adopt new technology, research and pest management.
Winfield Murray, president of the All-Island Bee Farmers Association (AIBFA) said that based on the local and international demand for Jamaican honey, the bee industry has the potential to be a \"gold mine\". He said there have been enquiries from the EU to supply the equivalent of two containers of honey per month. Unfortunately, he said this could not be met. He said also at least two other EU companies have expressed an interest in purchasing Jamaican honey.
Source www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner, 17 April 2006
Bees for Development acknowledges the Jamaica Gleaner for the use of this text.
Published in Bees for Development Journal 80 (September 2006)