Young people in St. Elizabeth are being urged to get into beekeeping, to satisfy the huge local and international demand for honey and other bee by-products.
“Jamaica has potential; very, very big potential in beekeeping, because honey is in short supply both locally and internationally,” said First Deputy Chairman of the Jamaica Federation of Commercial Apiculturists (JFCA), Elton Cawley.
He was addressing an Agri-business Expo held on Thursday (Feb. 19) at the Santa Cruz Community Centre in St. Elizabeth.
According to Mr. Cawley, because of the shortage in supply of honey locally, the price for the product in Jamaica was higher than what it was being sold for overseas.
He said that in addition to producing liquid honey, persons could also go into the production of bee derivatives such as propolis, royal jelly, pollen and wax, which fetch good prices both locally and abroad.
He noted that St. Elizabeth was one of the better parishes for honey production as a survey done three years ago, showed that the parish produces more logwood honey than any other parish. “Over 50 per cent of the national amount from logwood (comes from St. Elizabeth), so more people are needed to get involved in honey production,” he said.
Mr. Cawley informed that a document would be prepared for submission to the Ministry of Agriculture outlining plans by the JFCA to develop the beekeeping industry.
Mr. Cawley said that part of the plan was to get young persons in schools and youth groups, and farmers, through their Production and Marketing Organizations (PMOs), involved in beekeeping.
The JFCA Deputy Chairman, who is a large commercial beekeeper and honey producer, said that the plan would also outline training for new and existing beekeepers.
Currently, training in beekeeping is provided by the HEART Trust/NTA’s Ebony Park Academy in Clarendon and the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, William J.C. Hutchinson, in his remarks, said that the Ministry has mandated the Jamaica 4-H Clubs to spearhead the drive to increase beekeeping activities in Jamaica.
The Ministry’s apiary registration records indicates that between 2005 and 2007, the number of beekeepers grew by some 30 per cent, while hives increased by 24 per cent.
The JFCA estimates that the beekeeping industry needs at least 10,000 more hives to satisfy the local requirement for honey and more than $250 million would have to be invested to meet this target.