The Ministry of Agriculture is undertaking a $15 million beekeeping census to assess the true state of the industry and to properly plan for its development.
Director at the Ministry’s Databank and Evaluation Division, Michael Price, told JIS News, that during the four-week survey period, which started on June 13, “we are expecting to contact all beekeeping operations and carry out interviews on the various elements of beekeeping; access demographic information on the beekeepers, the number of apiaries they own and manage, and where these can be located.”
The information garnered will assist in the implementation of programmes to increase the number of bee colonies in the island and to assist farmers to improve their management practices.
According to Mr. Price, the last survey of the industry was done in 1997 and since then, a lot of things have changed in the sector. The purpose of this census therefore, “is to give us a picture of what has happened over that period of time and where we are in terms of the number of farmers, the number of apiaries out there, products and production practices.”
He noted that the field officers have been working hard to complete the census and urged the farmers to cooperate with them and support the exercise, as they stood to benefit.
Mary Williams, Senior Data Collecting Administrator attached to the St. Ann branch of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), reported that the farmers in the parish have been cooperating with the programme and that a lot of new farmers were eager to participate. With 43 of 50 farmers already interviewed, Mrs. Williams said that the survey was almost completed for the parish.
Meanwhile, she said that the exercise had been completed in the parish of Trelawny, with a total of 31 bee farmers interviewed. “A lot of things have happened since 1997”, she said, noting that, “many of the apiary owners in Trelawny have died over the period and so we have a lot of new owners taking over.”
“The survey that was done in 1997, showed a total of 27 bee farmers operating in Trelawny and to date, only five of 27 are still alive,” said Calvin Roper, Field Officer attached to the Trelawny RADA. Preliminary findings from the census indicate that many new farmers were coming into the industry, he noted further.