EFFORTS UNDERWAY TO RE-VITALIZE & SUSTAIN THE BEEKEEPING INDUSTRYWednesday 22nd June 2011
A two day workshop geared towards conducting diagnostic and preliminary technical assessment of the beekeeping sector, in Antigua wrapped at the Point Wharf Fisheries Complex, Wednesday.
The workshop was held with the view to identify constraints and develop strategies for expansion, production and improve quality for sustainable revenue profitability.
The session spearheaded by the Beekeepers Co-operative Society, in collaboration with Bees for Development (a UK based Organization) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment took the form of a field day Tuesday 21 June 2011 to various Apries and a Plenary on Wednesday 22 June 2011.
Mr. Clive de Bruyn, Consultant at the Bees for Development facilitated the workshop with beekeepers, honey hunters and prospective beekeepers.
Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment Hon. Hilson Baptiste said, the Ministry is committed to both theoretical and practical development of the beekeeping industry.
The minister stressed, “There are opportunities for market segmentation, employment and development of niche for added value products. Some of the areas include the potential for wax, pollens and (antibiotic properties).”
Mrs. Sharon Peters Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment reassured beekeepers of the ministry’s commitment.
Earlier this month, Mrs. Peters held a meeting with the beekeepers to discuss programs, challenges, and plan strategies for advancement in the development of the beekeeping industry.
Among the areas identified were continuous education, stronger linkage between Extension Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Beekeepers Corporative Society as well as re –registration and training of beekeepers.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment Hon. Chanlah Codrington also expressed his gratitude to the organizers for the efforts being undertaken to increase production of honey, Improve quality to achieve premium prices and Increase overall revenue and sustainability/ profitability.
Mr. Alistair Jacobs, Apiculturist and the proprietor of Natural bee Honey Equipment explained the much focus was placed on residue contaminant testing and monitoring to meet regulatory requirements/ food safety standards.
On Tuesday, Mr. de Bruyn and the overseas delegates visited the Analytical Services Department to view the possibility for testing.
Participants also toured various supermarkets and examined the packaging and labeling of honey. This was in an effort to identify the brands and country of imported honey, and study the quality of packaging, labeling and compare local prices to that of the imported honey.
During the tour beekeepers were also given instructions on correct breeding procedures for bees and hive management.
Meanwhile, technical advice for beekeepers and small scale farmers are ongoing, as efforts continue to keep the varroa mite at bay.
In 2005, the Varroa mite that was discovered in Antigua wiped out approximately 90-percent of the Queen Bee population.
In 2011, Mr. Jacobs said, Antigua is experience a re –emergence of bee, due mainly to the non-pasteurization of the product, vigilance and the non chemical use practice.
He noted that plans are in the pipeline to, “re –introduce swam trapping and monitoring at the port to keep out the Africanized Bee.”
Another area, in which, Jacobs said, is on the card is the education campaign to promote organic bee rearing.
Beekeepers from neigbouring St.Kitts & Nevis joined their colleagues in Antigua for the two –day workshop.
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