JIS News

Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, has said that the development taking place in the bee-keeping sub-sector was a model that should be emulated by other areas of the agricultural sector.
He pointed out that as part of the Government’s agricultural development strategy, bee-keeping had been identified as one of eight high-yielding competitive sub-sectors, which would receive some $200 million in priority funding.
The Minister was speaking at the official opening of the All Island Bee Farmers’ Association honey bottling plant at Vanity Fair in Linstead, St. Catherine, yesterday (August 22). The plant was refurbished at a cost of some $11 million through the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP).
“It was no accident why we choose bee-keeping,” Mr. Clarke said, noting that honey production had doubled over the last five years, moving from an average of 3.2 gallons per hive to 7.5 gallons per hive last year. He said that overall honey production was 117,000 gallons last year. Currently, honey is being sold for between $1,200 and $1,500 per gallon.
“The projection this year is 140,000 gallons, despite a significant reduction in the number of recorded bee colonies, attributed mainly to hurricane damage,” the Minister said.
“If banana producers, sugar producers or producers in any other area of agriculture could lift their productivity to that extent, then we would have no problem,” Mr. Clarke added. The adoption of modern technology, applied research and improved pest management practices.
The Minister pointed out that the Ministry had allocated a sum of $30 million to boost production and make bee-keeping more attractive to young people. This, he said, was in addition to an $11.5 million injection from the ASSP.
Mr. Clarke also said that a Bee-keeping Apprenticeship Programme had been launched, where each graduate would receive a start-up grant of $100,000.
“The groundwork has been laid and we are taking deliberate steps to assist more young people to become involved in the apiculture industry and to help small bee-keepers bring their production up to commercial levels,” he emphasised.
Explaining the significance of the bottling plant, Director of the ASSP, Hershell Brown, told JIS News that increased international demand for Jamaican honey, especially from Europe, has meant that strict adherence to international food safety standards had to be met.
“The bottling plant that has been refurbished, has been done to the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) standard, which is what the export market now demands, especially Europe,” he said.
“What this means is that all honey, in the near future, will have to either come through this bottling facility or go through another facility of a similar standard,” he explained.
Mr. Brown pointed out that Jamaica now had a market for honey, where an investor could make over 100 per cent profit on his investments. “So the market is there, the research is being done in terms of control of various diseases and the support is being given by the Ministry,” he added.