Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
Linstead, St Catherine:
Eighteen St Catherine farmers were certified as bee-keepers at the end of a 12-week bee-keeping training programme conducted at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) office in Linstead, St Catherine. This brings the number of farmers in the parish to benefit from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Inter-American Foundation-funded, and Local Initiative Facility for the Environment (LIFE) implemented project to 40.
Participants were exposed to topics such as the honey-bee colony, bee-keeping tools and equipment, products of bee-keeping, establishment of the apiary, hive management, pests and diseases, harvesting and marketing, and record keeping and basics of micro-enterprise management. Each participant received bee-keeping equipment and one box of bees to start up production.
At the end of the graduation exercise on Monday, Velva Lawrence, LIFE's executive director, told the Gleaner she was optimistic that the beneficiaries, which included 22 who were trained earlier in St Thomas, would reap great rewards.
"We expect that these bee-keepers will end up with a 10-colony apiary, which is double super, meaning it has three boxes after a year or so, and that they will from the earnings that they get from their honey production and in some cases pollen production, be able to expand their apiaries every year and probably within three years have at least 20 colonies," she explained.
Path for enhancement
Meanwhile, Cardia Duhaney, Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) St Catherine acting parish manager, said the project has created a path for economic enhancement.
"It is my intention to make it a revolving scheme, as in when these persons within the communities who are benefiting have split the (bees) boxes, they can pass on to other persons. St Catherine JAS will take it from here and train other young persons within the community and assist them from those who benefit, so it will be a revolve thing for the JAS St Catherine," Duhaney told the Gleaner.
The bee-keeping training conducted primarily by Delroy Oronde McNish, president, St Thomas Bee Farmers' Association, is one aspect of a cooperative agreement for the implementation of a community-based micro-enterprise development project in five parishes - St Catherine, St Thomas, St Andrew, Trelawny and St Mary - signed on March 14, last year between LIFE and USAID.
The objective of the project is to enable the development or expansion of 161 agriculturally based micro-enterprises in 25 communities and two bee-keeping organisations, through the application of bee farming, protected and agro-processing activities, over a three-year period. The two bee-keeping organisations are the All-Island Bee Farmers' Association and the Jamaica Federation of Commercial Apiculturists.
LIFE, a non-governmental organisation established in 2003, supports local efforts aimed at improving living conditions and promoting sustainable development in marginalised communities in Jamaica.