Show me the money, honey!
Harmons Valley group taps farming, beekeeping prospects
The Harmons Valley Community Council Benevolent Society (HVCCBS) is exploring apiculture and agriculture investments to generate income for project beneficiaries and sustain the charitable initiatives they undertake annually.
The project, which began two years ago, is being funded by bauxite company Jamalco and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, and has already seen an allocation of approximately $2 million, with plans for continued partnership.
President of the HVCCBS, Cherry Ross, says that more than 50 acres of land were donated to the council by the company for agriculture and beekeeping.
“The land will be used for beekeeping and also the planting of a variety of fruit trees. The fruit trees, some of which are already planted, will not only serve as food for the bees but also help to supply a juice factory we hope to establish in the future,” Ross told The Gleaner.
Community relations officer at Jamalco, Jermaine Saunders, said that the initiative is in line with the company’s objective to encourage optimal utilisation of reclaimed lands.
Saunders said subsequent grants would be given for the expansion of the project and the training of interested individuals.
The coordinator of the beekeeping project, Alton Gregory, said the council now has 30 boxes, with plans to expand to 100 boxes in the medium to long term.
About five persons are actively involved and remunerated for their services.
“This is a very lucrative venture and the aim is to continue to fund the projects of the council and help persons earn to benefit their families,” Gregory told The Gleaner.
“… Not only is beekeeping lucrative, but you can earn significantly from the spin-offs. As it stands, the wax which we can get from the comb is approximately $3,500 per pound at farm gate value. There is a market for pollen and, with people becoming so health conscious, we do not produce enough honey to meet our local demand, much less the export market.”
From a single box, Gregory said, honey can fetch revenue of more than $40,000.
Bottles with a capacity of 250ml retail for $800-$1,000; the 500ml container is sold for $1,800-$2,000; while the 750ml receptacle costs $2,300-$2,700.
“I want to see training and certification for persons involved in beekeeping because persons can live well from the earnings and there is a demand for persons to go overseas to be involved in beekeeping”
Marketing manager of the Harmons Valley benevolent society, LeoGarth Morrison, said that the council was in the early stages of positioning its product for export.
With nine communities within the HVCCBS, proceeds from the projects go towards the monthly purchase and distribution of care packages for the elderly, and the annual procurement and distribution of wheelchairs and mattresses for the needy.