As Barbados works to develop a viable apiculture industry, it will be assisted byArgentina, one of the world’s leading honey producers.
This will be done under ApiCaribe, an innovative project of the Embassy of Argentina and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the Barbados Beekeepers Association. It was launched this morning at the Embassy’s office at Hastings, Christ Church.
The main objective is to develop apiculture as an integrated farming practice, which promotes scientific beekeeping, and enhances the productivity of crops through pollination, while increasing the income and welfare of farmers and the wider society.
Speaking at the launch, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, said he was pleased to have them on board, given that apiculture was one of five areas earmarked for development within the wider agricultural sector.
Highlighting the amount of money spent on honey imports, he told the attendees the overall goal was to have a sustainable and viable apiculture sector.
“There was a time when debate started about [honey] bees being under threat because of the use of certain chemicals….
“And I’m happy to report now that we have a sizeable amount of beehives in Barbados and even though we are importing as much as US$700,000 worth of honey, it is against this backdrop that we should understand why we should be able to produce our own honey,” Minister Weir said.
He also noted that he was pleased with the work of his ministry thus far in getting persons involved in beekeeping. Apiculture is also a component of the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive, and the aim is to get young people and women involved in this area.
Minister Weir added that they would also be seeking to tap into the export market through the production, bottling and sale of honey under the popular Carmeta’s brand.
Acknowledging the efforts of local officials, Argentina’s Ambassador to Barbados, Gustavo Pandiani said ApiCaribe provided the opportunity to not only increase local honey production, but to be innovative.
He emphasized that the efforts were not only on the production of honey, but also the development of a strategy to effectively market the commodity outside of the island.
“This project is aimed at building capacity among local beekeepers, as well as designing a plan and a marketing strategy for Bajan honey products…. We’re not talking about only honey production; we’re also talking about having a strategy to sell it, but we’re taking it into the domestic and foreign markets,” he said.
Ambassador Pandiani further noted that they would also draw on the expertise of local beekeepers and tailor programmes specifically to the needs of this island.
Meanwhile, IICA Barbados representative, Ena Harvey, pledged the agency’s continued support to the ministry, noting that apiculture was a great way to introduce young people and women into agriculture and agro-business.
Under ApiCaribe, local beekeepers and stakeholders in honey production will be exposed to training with Argentine experts Liliana Gallez and Elian Tourn of the Universidad Nacional del Sur.
Argentina is the third largest exporter of natural honey in the world, with an estimated US$200 million in honey sales.