The European Union (EU) has allocated just over $1.2 million in grant funds for the 'Step Up 2013 Sweet Paradise Expansion' project now under way in Greater Brown's Town community in the Corporate Area.
The project is providing training to 16 youths from the area in the art of beekeeping and honey production.
It is being done with the guidance of the Ministry of Agriculture's Apiary Division in Old Harbour, St Catherine, with the money channelled through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).
The purpose of the project is to expand the beekeeping and honey production in the area to a commercial viability level, and provide a source of income for community members.
Although the most obvious benefit of the project is self-reliance, it also aims to unify the Greater Brown's Town community through teamwork.
The project promotes people working together, respecting each other, and it instils patience.
Successful participants receive a skill, and also the opportunity to earn and the possibility to develop and run their own apiaries.
Loy Malcolm, JSIF's general manager for project management, said the project is part of efforts to create more jobs in the economy.
"In order for Jamaica's economy to be prosperous, job creation is key, and also providing our people with income-generating skills, thus empowering Jamaicans to be able to help themselves," said Malcolm.
PHASE TWO FOCUS
The beekeeping project is in its second phase and has 16 active participants, eight females and eight males, all from the Greater Brown's Town community.
Participants in phase one were trained by the Ministry of Agriculture's Apiary Division, and focused on setting up the apiaries and training beekeepers.
In phase two, the project is focused mainly on expansion of apiaries and maintenance.
Participants inducted in phase two were trained by Honeycomb Industries.
They currently work for three days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at two locations, with the main hub being the Elletson Road Methodist Church.
In outlining the possible value of the bee industry, Veda Fagan, secretary of the Greater Brown's Town Community Development Benevolent Society, noted that, "If all the apiaries in Jamaica united to fill one export order of honey to a country like Jordan, we still would not have enough, so there is certainly a demand for honey."
According to Fagan, the industry has endless potential and the ultimate goal of the project is export.
"The decision lies in deciding whether to focus on the Jamaican diaspora or other markets," added Fagan.
The project is being supervised by the Greater Brown's Town Community Development Benevolent Society.