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JIS News

The Jamaica 4-H Clubs will be expanding its apiculture project next year, to improve its commercial viability and enhance its entrepreneurial training programme. The expansion, set to get underway in May, will involve the distribution of 200 bee colonies to four training centres across the island. These comprise Thatchfield in St Ann, Charlottenburgh in St. Mary, Font Hill in St. Thomas and Warminster in St. Elizabeth.
In an interview with JIS News, Linton Barnes, Field and Economic Services Development Manager at the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, said the expansion was being undertaken as part of the organization’s five-year strategic plan, which involved increasing the number of colonies from the present number of 173 to 1,000. The move, he stated, would allow the 4-H Clubs to accomplish its goal of becoming one of the largest bee-keeping organizations in Jamaica and contribute significantly to honey production for both the local and international markets. “We envision that in another year or so, we will be reaping a lot of honey and we’re in discussion with the bee farmers’ association so that we can supply them with honey,” he informed.
The apiculture project falls within the purview of the entrepreneurship training programme offered by the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, which equips young clubbites with the knowledge and skills to establish and sustain their own businesses.
In this regard, Mr. Barnes noted that the expansion plans would incorporate the training of an additional 150 clubbites in beekeeping, which represented a 50 per cent increase in the number of persons now being trained.
Beekeeping, he said, was a “good source of income and there is the demand for honey both locally and internationally.clubbites can rear bees in their back yards or on parcels of land as it takes just a little land space”.
After being dormant for many years, the Apiculture Project was revamped in January of this year. Under the project, colonies have been established in five training centres across the island namely: Rose Hall in St. Catherine, Bog in Westmoreland, New Forest in Trelawny, Charlottenburgh in St. Mary and Georgia in Hanover.
Meanwhile, Mr. Barnes said that in addition to increasing the number of bee colonies at the 4-H centres, the 4-H Clubs would also be distributing colonies to clubbites, who were interested in the programme.
“As part of the Clubs’ entrepreneurship training programme,” he said, “we will also be distributing colonies of bees to interested clubbites for them to rear.and as such these centres will serve as satellites for clubbites in the parishes,” he explained.
The training, done in collaboration with the Apiculture Unit of Bodles Research Station, lasts for a period of six months, and is available to clubbites between the ages of 15 and 25 years. Clubbites, interested in becoming a part of the project should inform the leaders of their respective clubs, or their parish development officer.