Let’s extract the money from the honey
Donald Campbell, a longstanding Hanover bee farmer, is calling on community-based organisations and individuals within the parish to venture into beekeeping with a view of helping to meet the global demand for Jamaican honey, which is highly sought-after.
Campbell, president of the Riverside Farmers Group, told Western Focus that Hanover is ripe for investment in beekeeping. Not only does the parish have favourable climatic conditions, but also an enabling environment to guarantee success. A cadre of bee farmers from the parish are being trained in apiculture management at Kenilworth HEART Academy.
"It can go a long way in terms of generating income for the parish of Hanover, based on my experience of over 15 years involvement in beekeeping," said Campbell.
"Of course, every business has its high and its lows, but, based on our environment, the whole Hanover is ripe for apiculture, with its terrain and the availability of so many plants that bees can get
nectar from - a lot of logwood, guineps, ackee, molanti, plum and mango."
"Kenilworth is providing training, right now, on how to manage apiaries. So, what you want now, is more persons who want to invest.," continued Campbell. "Persons who invest in the bees are not necessarily the ones who are going to tend to the bees. They would own the bees, but they don't have to be involved in the day-to-day activities. You can get the current trainees, or persons like myself, to come in and provide consultancy, because we do provide that service."
Campbell said despite an influx of new bee farmers, Jamaica is still unable to fulfil local and international demand for the product. He exports to sections of the English-speaking Caribbean, but needs additional supplies urgently.
"Right now I have no honey and I have a market for at least four drums of honey. If I get four drums of honey, I could sell it off tomorrow," said Campbell. "I am investing more in expansion, just so that I can supply the overseas market. Honey is needed with a sense of urgency. Ten years ago, you never had so many persons getting involved in beekeeping. But there still is always a shortage. We cannot supply the market that we have right now."
"Supermarkets, hotels, drink manufacturers here in Jamaica want honey as well. Overseas - New York, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe - they want authentic, organic 100 per cent Jamaican honey," said Campbell.
"The Jamaican honey is one of the best in the world and, of course, it never loses flavour, and it is natural. You don't have to add anything to it or do any processing or so. It comes from the blossoms so we don't have to add anything to it."
Satisfied that honey could bring sustained financial benefits, Williams said churches, youth clubs and other organisations, as well as retirees, who need additional income streams, could pursue bee-keeping, especially since it was not labour-intensive.
"It's a seasonal crop so, for six months of the year, you can sell your honey and get money... the market is there. There is no problem to get the honey sold.It is not time-consuming and it does not take up a lot of your property," Campbell said.
In May, the Ministry of Agriculture projected that Jamaica's beekeeping industry would generate an estimated $1 billion in earnings from honey production in 2015. This amount, it reported, would more than double $450.5 million earned from the nearly 188,000 gallons of honey produced in 2014.