Beekeeping industry could earn J$1bn in 2015Thursday, May 21, 2015
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – The Ministry of Agriculture is projecting that Jamaica’s beekeeping industry will generate an estimated $1 billion in earnings from honey production in 2015.
This would be more than double the $450.5 million earned from the nearly 188,000 gallons of honey produced in 2014.
The projection was given by Minister of State in the ministry, Luther Buchanan, at the graduation ceremony for participants in a 10-week introductory beekeeping course, held under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) project, at Ebony Park HEART Academy in Clarendon, on May 20.
Buchanan attributed the 2014 outturn to a significant increase in the number of registered and managed bee hives over the last 10 years, which rose from 15,600 in 2005 to 43,600 in 2015, resulting in a “better yield per hive” as well as an escalation in the price of honey.
Describing apiculture as a “fast growing” industry, the State minister noted that it provides direct employment for 2,300 families, with indirect employment for another 5,000 people, and impacts some 12,000 people, overall.
“This is evidence that with dedication, vigilance, hard work, and commitment, we can succeed in farming,” he argued.
Buchanan pointed out, however, that apiculture “is not without its challenges”. Chief among these, he indicated, are the lack of competent labourers/apiary attendants; praedial thieves; insufficient technical knowledge and skills among bee farmers; and climate change.
The State minister said apiculture, like other areas of farming, is also plagued by diseases, which adversely affect the bee population, with the most recent to surface being the foulbrood, which he said, has affected honey production.
“It is within this context that the training of these (nearly) 100 persons is very timely. Having gained much needed knowledge...I am confident that the industry is poised for further growth,” Buchanan said.
Noting that Jamaican honey products “are in demand”, the State minister urged the participants, particularly established bee farmers, to use the knowledge gained to “improve the operations of your farms”.
“By doing so, we will be able to fulfil the demands for our honey and other products, both here in Jamaica, and the wider Caribbean, and other places such as the United States, Canada and Europe,” he said.
Participants in the training programme were drawn from St Catherine, St Thomas, Manchester, and St Elizabeth.
Topics covered included: apiary establishment and management; waste disposal; food safety management; and product development.
The training was complemented by a donation of 120 bee starter colonies, bee-keeping equipment, and protective gear, valued at approximately $10.49 million (US$90,449).
Ja REEACH, through its Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction, and Agro-forestry as a Business programmes, is encouraging the expansion of apiculture as an alternative source of income.
This engagement is also a climate change adaptation strategy, which helps to ensure the protection of livelihoods in rural communities.
The Ja REEACH project is a three-year initiative being implemented by Agricultural Cooperative Development International/ Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance.