Beekeepers find sweet spot
Floyd Green, the minister of agriculture and fisheries, said that the agiculture sector has continued to grow.
"We have identified the beekeeping industry as one of the areas in which we could develop a competitive advantage, as there is a significant demand for honey and other by-products," Green said, while speaking at a virtual meeting of the St James Bee Farmers Association on May 2.
He said that some 3,000 investors are managing just over 3,500 apiaries, with approximately 65,000 bee colonies, valued at about $2.6 billion.
But he said that Jamaica still has much ground to cover in satisfying its local and international demand.
Over $30 million was provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries through training and capacity building to 23 beekeeping projects islandwide in 2020. Additionally, in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry, the ministry has provided a $5-million grant towards farm-feeding support in an effort to preserve the life of approximately 12 per cent of the beekeeping stock across Jamaica. To date, some 112 beekeepers have benefited from this grant.
Green said that the Government is ramping up its research and development efforts to satisfy the demands for honey and by-products. He said that the apiculture unit in his ministry has carried out two levels of hygienic testing on 30 colonies of bees, from which five queens were selected. Production of daughter cells is now in progress, with the intent to supply the market with quality breeding material.