KINGSTON — Residents of Auchindoun and surrounding communities in Westmoreland are slated to benefit from an income generating project in honey production being spearheaded by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).
Executive Director of the NSWMA, Joan Gordon-Webley, told JIS News that the idea is to get residents involved in the production of honey to earn income for themselves and their families. The agency will handle the sale and marketing of the product.
She informed that the project will be undertaken on a 50-acre parcel of land, which the agency is utilising for commercial ventures such as the planting of sawgrass, palm trees, ornamental fruit trees, and expansion of its compost project.
"There were lots of bees in the trees on the compound so we harvested them, and currently, we have approximately 150 boxes of bees and we have been getting honey," she told JIS News, informing that the honey harvested was sold at the recently staged Denbigh Agricultural Show in Clarendon.
Mrs. Gordon-Webley said the agency has enlisted technical support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which will ensure that persons are properly trained and that the project can be sustainable.
"They (Ministry) are teaching us how to handle this project and our intention is to bring on board all of the persons within the communities in the Auchindoun area. We have on our staff, carpenters, and we are producing the boxes, so persons, who wish to get into the honey making venture, we are going to be giving them these boxes and teach them how to handle this project, and then we are going to be dealing with the business aspect of it," she stated.
The beekeeping project is the latest venture being undertaken by the agency as it seeks to become self-sufficient. The Government is 2009, mandated that the NSWMA identify new sources of income, which would generate additional revenue to beautify and maintain the country’s roadways and create employment.
Mrs. Gordon-Webley said the agency is far advanced in becoming self-sufficient, and has earned millions of dollars from several income generating projects.
"Last year alone, through commercial collection, the NSWMA earned some $248 million, coming from $5 million some four years ago," she stated.
"We have already shipped out our first container of compost to the Bahamas and we are now earning US dollars. We have samples in Nicaragua," she boasted, informing that the compost, distributed by AgroGrace Jamaica, is available in local retail and wholesale outlets.
In addition to the lands in Westmoreland, Mrs. Gordon-Webley said the agency has acquired 35 acres of land at Caymanas and "we are putting 10 acres of that into compost, five into sawgrass, 10 into ornamental fruit trees, we are putting in palm trees and all of that is going to be for the beautification of Jamaica, our roadways, so we are way down the road with our development."
The NSWMA head said that the money earned is used to pay employees and purchase much-needed equipment. “The Parks and Gardens Division now employs well over 4,000 people, and we do not rely on any Government subvention to pay those people. We have acquired some 150 whackers, we have acquired a sweeping truck, and we have acquired a platform truck that we now use to trim trees all over Jamaica,” she said.
She informed further that the NSWMA, through collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA, also trains persons on an ongoing basis to do landscaping and other related work.
By Garfield L. Angus