Beekeeping has been identified by Government as a sector to generate wealth and create employment opportunities for the youth, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir said
The Minister’s reports came while delivering the opening address at the Beekeeping Forum hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Barbados Apiculture Association at Gall Hill Resource Centre, St John.
He said during a three- to six-month period, a developing beehive could produce up to 40 000 pounds of honey for the selling price of $20 000 per pound. Weir indicated that investment in the apiculture sector could fuel entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.
“Bees can play a role in the employment of youth, especially females who though not keepers in their own right, can develop a small business centered around the bottling and sale of honey,” Weir said.
“We do recognize the importance of the development of strong cottage industries in Barbados where we can engage females more and find better ways to help them to become entrepreneurs and therefore [reduce] that gap between opportunity and societal affairs where they then tend to become victims of the criminal elements.”
Weir revealed that the Ministry was undergoing a Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive which seeks to engage disadvantaged youth and other members of society in the agriculture sector. He also said the Scotland District would be used as one of the prime areas for apiculture development.
“Under our Farmers’ Empowerment and Enfranchise Drive [we] give young people a chance to participate in the planting of trees, fruit trees and intercropping where they are given the opportunity to plant legumes so that they get that burst of income,” Weir stated.
He emphasized that bees play a critical role as not only pollinators but also the creation of products such as royal jelly, beeswax, and pollen.
Also in attendance at the beekeeping forum was parliamentary representative for St John, Charles Griffith. He said that he sought to provide opportunities for his community through the apiculture initiative and he would strive to make his constituency the leading honey producers in the island.
“We have the land, we have the guys on the block who are asking and begging for a second chance and it is part of my remit to ensure that every possible avenue for them to get involved in the process is there. I commit to ensuring that the blocks of St John, in particular, but those young people in St John, who are unemployed see apiculture as the vehicle, a viable option to move them towards the next level,” he said.
Ena Harvey, InterAmerican Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) representative to Barbados was also in attendance to present a honey extraction to the region’s fastest-growing beekeeping association, the Barbados Apiculture Association. (KK)