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Bee Farmers Urged To Increase Value-Added Production
KINGSTON (JIS) -- Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, is encouraging bee farmers to increase value added production in order to maximise earnings. He noted that while beekeeping is a billion-dollar industry, a significant portion of this money is from the sale of primary products. “If the industry is to reach its true potential, we must expand not just the primary products but also value-added products to include pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other manufactured products. This will require a greater level of investment and additional resources,” he pointed out. Minister Hutchinson was speaking at a Jamaica Union of Bee Farmers forum at the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA) Parish Office in St. James recently. He noted that the beekeeping industry continues to be very lucrative, attracting many new investors over the last decade.
He informed that in 2016, there were approximately 3,000 bee keepers and 48,000 registered beehives, providing direct employment for 3,000 families.
“There has also been an increase in the demand for products for the local and export markets,” he pointed out.
He said that honey production has increased by over 200 per cent, moving from 117, 548 gallons in 2005 to an estimated 247, 000 gallons in 2016. There has been an over 100 per cent increase in the price of honey between 2015 and 2016.
Minister Hutchinson said that for the 2017 crop, projections are that some 288,000 gallons of honey will be reaped with farm gate earnings of just under $1.8 billion.
An additional $60 million is expected to be earned from the 10,024 gallons of honey to be reaped from the 176 new apiaries and 2,506 hives that have been established since the start of April.
Minister Hutchinson pointed to the need for players in the industry to work together in order to address challenges.
He noted that the beekeeping industry is driven primarily by small players, who operate individual businesses, and who have been doing a great job to move the sector forward.
“However, as your numbers continue to grow it becomes increasingly important that you speak as one voice as you seek to address the challenges confronting the industry, such as climate change and the need for an updated Bees Control Act to guide the industry in keeping with the changes within the industry,” the Minister said.