Agriculture officials and Stakeholders underscore the importance of the Beekeeping industry in Antigua and Barbuda.
Minister of Agriculture Hon. Samantha Marshall, lead a delegation on a tour of the Antigua and Barbuda Beekeepers Cooperative Headquarters in Belmont which is under major rehabilitation work.
The implementing agency that is undertaking the repair work is the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) through external funds valued at $16,500.00 USD from the Australian High Commission Direct Aid Programme (DAP) with support from the Ministry of Agriculture, other government ministries and private stakeholders.
Among the agriculture officials who accompanied Minister Marshall on this week’s tour were Permanent Secretary Mr. Colin O’Kieffe and Director of Agriculture Mr. Gregory Bailey.
In commending the initiative, which he described as very timely, Bailey said that pollination is very important for food security and production and bees are essentially the number one pollinator especially for domestically farmed crops.
‘So it’s important that we foster this particular aspect of food, “Bailey emphasized.
He said that the Department of Agriculture will continue to focus on the use of safer pesticides which will protect the bee population and will also continue to encourage vegetable farmers to provide a space for bees.
‘Because while the cooperative forms a nucleus for the sub-sector, the bees need space to forage and in times of hardship especially in droughts, sometimes, the wild doesn’t produce enough food and we depend on the artificially irrigated crops to provide forage for the bees.’
P.S O’Keiffe was pleased with the vast amount of work that has been done on the building so far and looks forward to its full completion towards the end of the year.
He also credited the assistance given by other ministries and the in-kind contributions by private stakeholders in advancing the work on the building
He pledged his ministry’s assistance to further assist in bringing the building fully back on track.
President of the Beekeepers Corporative, Brent Georges credited the support of all partners involved in realizing such an important project.
He highlights the critical role of the beekeepers corp in driving the growth and development of the beekeeping industry.
‘The intention of the beekeepers corp is to assist first and foremost in food security of Antigua and Barbuda but also, to develop small and medium enterprise development here in the sector,” Georges stated.
According to Georges, the corp is presently participating in a number of externally funded projects which includes a project the training a number of females in the sector with the assistance of the Integrated Health Outreach (IHO). Another project is the recently signed LoA between Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) and IICA to provide training for 20 persons in Antigua and Barbuda with focus on addling value to selective value chains . The goal is to train as many persons as possible to develop the sector, according to Georges.
IICA National Specialist Craig M. Thomas in the meantime said that under IICA’s Medium Term Plan 2018-2022 technical cooperation model, Apiculture falls under the Bioeconomy and Production Development program to improve the value chain for selective sectors.
The beekeeping sector produces a wide variety of value added products such as honey, wax and wine.
“Over the years, the institute has been working very closely with the Beekeeping Cooperative and we here today to see some of the work that has been executed so far under this Aus-Aid project. The project is expected to be completed by December, 2021.”
Minister Marshall said that she was very happy to see the facility of the beekeepers corp in its advanced state of major repairs and that such a project will provide more opportunities for many beekeepers to expand their knowledge and business on a whole.
A part of the project is to train a number of new beekeepers to include women and the agriculture minister is elated about that.
“We are very happy to know that this will be something that will be able to generate more opportunities and the government has given its additional commitment to allow at least a small loan to those successful at the training and to ensure that they will be able to have a little startup of the capital items that they require for their beekeeping business.”
Minister Marshall continued, “As it is now, beekeeping is going to be a critical part to ensure sustainable production and food security and we are very happy that our beekeepers association is revitalized and will have a home to be able to support the agricultural sector.”
The project will provide economic opportunity beyond the life of the project, and with built capacity and developed marketing and customer outreach expertise, the DAP approaches to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development consistent with Australia’s national interest can be sustained by these businesses after project completion.
The outlook of the Beekeeping Industry looks bright
Things are definitely looking up for the Beekeeping industry in Antigua and Barbuda with major renovations of their headquarters well underway and the increased interest that is being shown by many to make a career out of it.
According to the Bee Corp, there are huge benefits in a beekeeping career, apart from the production of honey which seems to be the latest crave these days.
Apart from bees playing their natural role in food nutrition and security, the value added aspect of it such as the making of soaps, wax and creams are penetrating markets around the world more and more.
Those who chose to get into beekeeping however, didn’t just go straight into it before learning the basic skills which are critical for an operation of this nature.
Such areas involved managing bee hives, collecting swarms along with the business management module side of it.
During a recent visit to the Bee Corp Headquarters at Belmont which is currently under major repairs through external funds from the Australian High Commission Direct Aid Programme, we caught up with three beekeepers.
Davina Joyce is involved in Beekeeping for about two (2) years and is also a student in the beekeeping training programme.
She was very enthused about the rehabilitation of the building so much so that she played a major part in helping to complete the tiling work on the floor.
‘When they talked about the rehabilitation of the building, I was on board and I was very interesting in doing whatever I could to bring it to a state of use,’ Joyce remarked.
She actually told us that she got into Beekeeping after her trainer, Jermaine Scotland removed a huge Beehive from under one of her houses.
“I sat down and looked at him and everything he did and then I said I’m interested in that you know and then by the end of the week, I had a protective gears and my equipment to follow him wherever he went so I can learn about it because I know it’s an integral part of our livelihood.’
She encouraged all Antiguans and Barbuda to do their part in helping to safeguard the bees.
Sylveneta Charles has been involved in the beekeepers association for about seven (7) years and she said that she is very grateful for all the stakeholders who came on board to strengthen the group.
Charles, who is the Project Coordinator of the Women’s Beekeepers` training Course and Secretary of the Beekeepers Corp, said that since her introduction to the association, she is happy to see the progress being made so far with the building and other programs and she hopes that this trend will continue.
‘Bees are a very integral part of our existence,” Charles noted.
Jermaine Scotland, Manager for the Antigua and Barbuda Beekeepers Association has nearly two decades under his belt where beekeeping is concerned.
He heaped praise on the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and its National Specialist Craig M. Thomas along with the beekeepers association’s president, Brent Georges, members of the cooperative and other individuals for the major contributions and the efforts they made in rehabilitating the building.
“We have been working tirelessly, night, day, rain, sun to get this building to where it is right now, so I will like to thank everybody’
Scotland added “Without bees you know, we won’t have any food and without food they’ll be no humans. So we need the bees so that we can have pollination and probably better food sources here in Antigua and Barbuda.’
The Australian Aid Direct Programme’s move to rehabilitate the Beekeepers Cooperative Facility with the following expected results:
- Improve the central facility unit for the increase of the honey production and value chain addition for beekeepers through rehabilitating of the unit.
- Strengthen existing livelihood opportunities and generate alternatives based on the implementation of sustainable apiculture interventions.
- Disseminate the climate-smart apiculture approaches using innovative educational and M&E tools and new media approaches, within Antigua and Barbuda to promote wider interest and uptake of DAP poverty reduction strategies.
FAO and IICA team up to execute Capacity Building Training for Beekeepers in Barbuda
17 August 2021, St. John’s, Antigua – On September 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma pummeled Antigua and Barbuda, however the impact on Barbuda was far more severe as the eye of the category 5 hurricane passed directly over the island. The agricultural sector, particularly crops, livestock, bees, the fishing industry, infrastructure, machinery and equipment were significantly damaged.
While the impact of the hurricane was devastating, it presented an opportunity to create sustainable food and agriculture systems that were designed with climate challenges in mind.
Four years later, the agriculture recovery programme has borne fruit in the form of an agro-industrial facility inclusive of production, processing, storage, packaging, and marketing in a public-private sector partnership under one roof.
This project along with the restoration of the livelihoods of Barbudans remain a priority for the country.
In rebuilding the agriculture sector in Barbuda, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs chose to adopt a Green Island concept.
The concept promotes organic agriculture with priorities in the areas of compliance with food safety requirements, protected agriculture, efficient use of water resources, intensive farming systems for small ruminants, and value-chain development through processing and packaging (jams, juices, honey, pepper sauce, coconut oil and animal feed).
In alignment with the priorities expressed in the national adoption of the Green Island concept, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in a collaborative effort, will seek to build the capacity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), towards improving the food security, livelihoods, and resilience of the impacts of climate change, which will improve the production capacity of honey and black pineapple.
The activities under the project commenced in Barbuda from 9th-11th August 2021 with a capacity building initiative titled “Training for the Honey Value Chain in Antigua and Barbuda”.
The initiative was executed by a team of local consultants from IICA with virtual support from the FAO Sub-regional Office in Barbados, who executed several activities with a focus on the Logwood Honey which is produced by bees from the flowers of the logwood tree.
The activities focused on capacity building among new beekeepers with training exercises undertaken to familiarize producers with business management skills to ensure that they apply good business principles in the management of their specific supply point along the value chain.
The participants were also trained in the various elements of the value chain such as inputs, production and its practices, marketing and distribution, all of which has an impact on the end product.
The project implementation activities also included primary data collection in the form of interviews with local apiculturists, in order to understand the local commodity market in addition to the training sessions for new beekeepers which blended practical and theory sessions to create a foundation for future apiculturists.
In welcoming participants to the first training session, Project Coordinator, Vermaran Extavour with FAO stated, “On behalf of FAO I welcome you all to this important training which will have multiple layers for learning which will add value to your business. I must also emphasize the importance of creating a viable business using a market driven approach where data and evidence drive the decisions on the final products offered to customers”.
Meanwhile, Craig Thomas, National Consultant at the IICA Antigua Delegation, indicated, “We are thrilled to roll out this project as a collaborative effort between FAO and IICA. This project aligns the medium term plans of both organizations in regional member states and provides ample opportunities to meet the priorities of Antigua and Barbuda”.
With only three (3) active local beekeepers in Barbuda who produce a high-quality product, it has been a challenge to meet the local demand for honey.
However, the participants which were selected by the Barbuda Council benefited from the training that captured the business development for beekeeping, beekeeping management and the opportunities and challenges for the honey value chain in Barbuda, are now well poised to meet this demand.
Each participant received a start-up apiary kit which included a brood box, super, 10 frames, wax foundation, bee brush, smoker, bee suit and a hive tool which are the basic inputs a new beekeeper would need to start an apiary.
Mojan Joseph who participated in the training, expressed, “I am grateful to FAO & IICA for the training and for the starter kits which will be put to good use in my beekeeping business”.
The facilitators with the assistance of the Antigua Beekeepers Cooperative (ABC) and the local senior beekeepers in Barbuda will use a mentorship programme to monitor these new business persons to ensure that proper business and management decisions are followed.
Through the mentorship programme, new beekeepers will have access to current information and guidance from experts at the IICA Antigua delegation as well as experienced local beekeepers.
Further training in the Honey Value Chain will commence in Antigua from August 19 – August 31, and will target an 20 beekeepers both established and new as well as technical staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs.
Contact for more information: –
FAO National Communications Consultant
FAO Subregional Office for the Caribbean
+ 1 246 426 7110
Technical Specialist – IICA Delegation. Antigua and Barbuda
+ 1 (268) 462-6119