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Earth Today | Apiculture value chain abuzz with opportunities

Published:Wednesday | April 4, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Patrons sample honey-based beverages at the apiculture forum.
Honey wines and pastry on display.
Honey wines and skincare products on display.

THE INCREASED popularity and demand for honey and its by-products, given discoveries of the health and wellness benefits, to say nothing of taste, make now as good a time as any to explore the industry and the investment opportunities in the value chain.

This sentiment was expressed at the Apiculture Value Chain Forum organised by the USAID-funded Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate cHange II (Ja REEACH II) project, in collaboration with the Rural Agriculture Development Authority, held at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education on March 26.

The forum, held under the theme 'More Than Honey: Opportunities Buzzing Within the Apiculture Value Chain', brought together commercial honey producers from Eastern Jamaica to explore local and international opportunities available in the beekeeping industry.

Technical experts from Agro-Investment Corporation; Jamaica Business Development Corporation; the Ministry of Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries' (MICAF's) Apiculture Unit; and the Jamaica Bureau of Standards shared presentations, which highlighted best practices in the areas of standards, product development and marketing. Bee farming associations also shared success stories.

According to Agro-Investment Cor-poration cluster coordinator, Duvoughn Thomas, the established international demand for honey, presents an economic opportunity for the country to tap into the US$2.2-billion global honey industry. Jamaica has only been able to tap into 0.02 per cent of the global market so far.

"We have to stop looking at honey as the only product that we can get from the beehive. The hive is a production station for many different products ... they have high market value and are inputs/ingredients in other market products," said Kwesi Palmer, apiculture extension officer at MICAF, in a release to the media.

The forum was a catalyst for bee entrepreneurs to network and establish linkages while showcasing value-added products, such as soaps, ointments, shampoos, hair wax and candles from beeswax, jams and jellies, wines, and infused flavoured honey.

The Ja REEACH II project is a four-year initiative funded by the USAID. Through a range of interventions, Ja REEACH II works with government, private sector, civil society and community-based organisations to increase awareness and application of practical actions that help Jamaicans to become more resilient to climate change.