The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands will be spending approximately $2.4 million over the next six months to provide training in apiculture for 22 young men and women, under phase three of its Beekeeping Apprenticeship Programme.
Chief Apiculture Officer in the Ministry, Reginald Peddy in an interview with JIS News recently, explained that the programme, which is expected to get underway this month, seeks to train unemployed young people, particularly from rural communities, to empower them to achieve economic sustainability.
The initiative, he noted further, is expected to increase the growing demand for honey both locally and internationally. “There is a substantial market locally for honey and there is an excessive market especially within the European Union for Jamaican honey,” he pointed out.
Mr. Peddy explained that during the training period, each apprentice will be assigned to an experienced bee farmer, who will be responsible for instructing the apprentice in the various aspects of beekeeping. “Our extension officers will also be on hand to assist with the training. It is important that the apprentices are supervised on a regular basis and that the (bee farmers) are assisted,” he added.
In addition, the participants will also benefit from in-house training where they will learn about apiary management, pest control and the marketing of hives.
Each apprentice will also receive a monthly stipend of $5,000, as well as basic equipment to assist with their training. “Each apprentice will receive a bee veil, hive tool, bee smoker as well as five standard bee hives with bees.
They will also receive 25 frames of bees to start nucleus colonies; they get five nucleus hives as well as five standard hives,” Mr. Peddy informed.
The Chief Apiculture Officer told JIS News that upon completion of the training, the apprentices will be given $71,000 in bees and equipment, to assist with the establishment of their own apiaries. “Their apiaries will be established under our supervision and they will be monitored after training; the training is a continuous process,” he said.
Apprentices are chosen based on their interest in bee-keeping and their proximity to a bee farmer, who has enough work to occupy the apprentice for at least four days per week. They must also be literate and should demonstrate the ability to complete the programme successfully.
In the meantime, Mr. Peddy noted that based on the success of the first and second phases of the programme and the large amount of older applicants, the Ministry has extended the requirement age.
“The original concept was to have persons 18 to 25 years. We have discovered however that the people who are applying are way above the 25 age group. They are mature people with responsibilities and many of them have no meaningful employment and so we use this programme to get them some employment,” he explained.
Since the programme’s inception in 2005, 59 persons have graduated.