Golden Valley gives back - Apiculture project strengthens group, community development
Golden Valley Jamaica Agricultural Society (GVJAS) is aptly described as the group that keeps on growing. From continually improving their apiary, developing product branding, to diligent fundraising efforts, the St Thomas-based group has done it all. It has been two years since their training under the USAID-funded Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change II (Ja REEACH II) Agroforestry as a Business Farmer Field School. The group has fully transitioned to full-fledged bee farmers; the group has been reaping the fruits of their labour in more ways than one.
One livelihood pursuit leads to another
Through the pursuit of one livelihood [apiculture] the group has found ways to assist several of their members pursue another. The proceeds from the honey sales have allowed the start-up of a revolving livestock project for the group.
Group leader Evelyn McGowan noted that there were several challenges, including drought and the onset of the rainy season, which impacted their beekeeping operations. The livestock project will provide the opportunity to help some farmers in the group. This is demonstration of income diversification, one of the principles learned from the farmer field school that the group has embraced and have now put into practice.
At a small handover ceremony 100 baby chicks along with eight bags of starter ration were distributed to four group members. A goat was also handed over to one group member with the objective to divide future offspring among other members. The handover took place at the Golden Valley Basic School, another beneficiary of the agriculture group who pays the cost of utilities for the school which serves the children within the community. The apiculture group also has a back to school initiative that helps students with school supplies at the start of each school year.
The group has already established structure for a revolving fund which will see 20 per cent of the net profits from the chicken rearing operations to be returned to the group. This will enable other members to receive livestock of their own.
"In the next six months we are expecting to help five to six more group members in a similar way," McGowan said hopefully.
"Our months of apiculture training through the [farmer] field school weren't in vain because now we are reaping something from it. It might not be big, but if we work on it and take care of what we get then we can go on. At the same time, it is fair for who receive to give back so that the group can expand," said Viviene Henry, one of the beneficiaries of the day's handover.
This another long-awaited accomplishment has left the group members in high spirits. According to other members, the group continues to grow from strength to strength and this demonstration will encourage even more people to be a part of the network.