The Apiculture Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture will be embarking on a $3.5 million Beekeeping Apprenticeship Programme geared at providing employment opportunities for young men and women, who reside in rural communities.
In an interview with JIS News, Reginald Peddy, Chief Apiculture Officer at Bodles Research Station, said that the programme was designed to equip young people with the necessary skills to successfully operate a beekeeping business. . “The programme,” he added, “could provide an avenue through which they (participants) could earn a meaningful income.”
In addition to providing employment, the Chief Apiculture Officer emphasized that the goal of the initiative, was to also increase the level of honey produced, for the domestic and export markets.
The programme, which will get underway in August of this year, is targeting young men between the ages of 18 and 25 years, and all women over the age of 18 years old.
It will be undertaken on a phased basis, and each participant will be required to spend a total of six months in training. Up to 40 persons are being targeted and they will be divided into three groups. The first group will consist of 20 participants, while the other two groups will each consist of 10 participants.
During the training period, Mr. Peddy explained, each participant would be attached to a successful beekeeper, who would be responsible for training him or her.
In addition, participants will be given a weekly stipend of $1,250 while in training and a start up grant of $71,000 to cover the purchase of 10 beehives. Participants would also be given the basic equipment required for the effective management of the hives.
During the training phase, the participants will be exposed to various aspects of beekeeping such as site selection, apiary management and the marketing of hive and value-added products. Mr. Peddy informed that after the six-month period, the trainees would benefit from follow-up assistance.
In terms of the selection process, Mr. Peddy told JIS News that preference would be given to unemployed persons who live in rural communities, who have access to good apiary sites, and were willing to live away from home during the training phase. They must be literate and demonstrate during the interviewing process, the ability to complete the programme satisfactorily.
While participants are encouraged to submit a recommendation from a recognized beekeeper, Mr. Peddy noted that applicants, who are unable to do so, could still apply.
Persons who are interested in being a part of the programme are encouraged to collect the application forms from the Apiculture Unit at Bodles or any of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) offices islandwide. Applicants should then submit the forms to the Apiculture Unit, or to any of the Extension Officers noted on the forms.
The programme, which will last for a period of three years, is being funded by the Ministry of Agriculture.