Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, says that the six-month project undertaken by the Ministry, to eradicate the American Foulbrood Disease (AFB), has put bee-keepers in a position to effectively manage the disease and move the industry forward.
He was speaking yesterday (Dec. 20) at the Bodles Agricultural Research Station in St. Catherine, where some of the 81 farmers trained as AFB inspectors received certificates. The farmers now have the expertise to monitor their hives for the disease and also assist the Ministry’s ongoing assessment process.
Mr. Stanberry said that with the disease now under control, stakeholders can operate with fewer losses, and it is now time for more focus to be placed on the value-added aspect of the industry.
“Through this project, we have been able to address one of the major obstacles in the production process. Hopefully, with the eradication activities that we undertook, we are now at a stage where we can monitor and ensure that we maintain the clean record as far as American Foulbrood Disease is concerned, but the industry must grow beyond that,” he stated.
The Permanent Secretary noted that Jamaica is one of few countries that are certified to export honey to territories in the European Union (EU), and urged stakeholders to take advantage of that facility.
“To be certified to export any product of animal origin to the EU, it means that you would have had to have the appropriate regulatory system in place to ensure safe food going to the EU. It means that the Veterinary Services Division would have to be in top form with the array of specialists required to ensure that. We have done that, it is now time for enterprising people to come on board, and take advantage of that,” he said.
The $40 million project, which ended this month, was undertaken through funding from the EU and technical guidance from the Apiculture Unit in the Ministry. The implementing agent was the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the All Island Bee Farmers’ Association, and the Jamaica Federation of Commercial Apiculturists.
The project, which was targeted at the parishes of St. Catherine, Clarendon,
St. James, St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas, aimed to eradicate AFB, which has affected many farmers in Jamaica. The process involved the dispatch of inspectors across the island to assess apiaries, with infected hives found during the inspections burnt.
Farmers also received training in bee-keeping best practices and business management, while some 500 commercial apiaries were established to provided revenue for ongoing monitoring of the disease.
AFB is a highly contagious, spore forming bacteria that feeds on bee larvae and pupa, thus drastically reducing the bee population. AFB can appear and spread quickly through a colony and if left untreated, may result in the death of the hive in a short time.
By Garfield Angus, JIS Reporter