Bee Farmers Urged to get Organized to Benefit from Funding


Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Donovan Stanberry, has urged the island’s beekeepers to get organized and become more business-like to benefit from available funding for the growth and sustainability of the sector.
Mr. Stanberry, who was addressing the annual general meeting of the All Island Bee Farmers Association (AIBFA) at the Jamaica Conference Centre on (Dec. 12), said that through funding from the European Union “we are making provisions to lift the organization and to help to broaden the number of products that emerge from this sector, not only the honey, but if you organize yourself properly, you can access funds to move to other areas in the value chain.”
With additional infrastructure and facilities and a system in place, he said, beekeepers can move up from honey sales into even more viable bee products such as propolis, and royal jelly.
“The challenge is will we be able to have an association that is so structured to manage the thing properly, so that with confidence you can come, you can apply for your grants and do all of these things.
We can only make the provision in the Ministry; the real test is how you’re going to organize yourself to benefit from this,” Mr. Stanberry stated.
“It is high time that this organization so organize itself that you can provide the critical management that you can take this bee thing to a well entrenched and sustainable sector within the agricultural sector,” he added.
Pointing to the importance of the bee industry to the agricultural industry, Mr. Stanberry said that with the erosion of preferential trade arrangements, the industry can no longer rely on just a few narrow commodities such as sugar, banana and cocoa.
“It therefore means that our salvation lies in searching for niches and in this regard, honey is a particularly good candidate, because I hear there is no honey better than the Jamaican honey in terms of its taste and its quality, so right away we have an advantage that we must exploit to the maximum,” he stated.
The Permanent Secretary acknowledged the importance of putting in place, the necessary infrastructure to satisfy the sanitary and phytosanitary standards required for the export market and informed that government is addressing these concerns.
In the meantime, he is encouraging young persons to take up bee farming, noting that the venture is extremely viable and can be started up easily in the backyard. He noted that the industry has the potential to make idle hands productive and stem the urban drift.
“So we have to somehow get this together. We have to move from the potential now and to start to realize the thing. There is nothing that we at the Ministry want more than for people to be earning money. Get the sector sustainable,” he appealed.
According to the AIBFA, here are 1,100 bee farmers in the island and the total value of the honey industry in Jamaica stands at $1.3 billion. Total colony count is 24,000 with an expected yield of 240,000 gallons of honey.

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