The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries says some $35 million have been allocated towards 23 beekeeping projects across the island.
A total of $30 million has gone towards training and capacity building exercises for farmers and the remaining $5 million disbursed in grants to assist farmers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, 112 beekeepers have benefitted from this grant, which represents approximately 12 per cent of the beekeeping stock across Jamaica.
Jamaica’s apiculture sector continued to grow in 2020 with some 3,000 investors managing just over 3,500 apiaries with approximately 65,000 bee colonies valued at about $2.6 billion or US$17 million.
The growth of the industry has been particularly strong in Hanover, which now houses the only functioning honey-bottling plant on the island. It is operated by the Hanover Bee Farmers’ Cooperative.
The Ministry values Jamaica’s apiculture industry at $2 billion, and according to JAMPRO, the estimated return on investment is 23 percent.
“We have identified the beekeeping industry as one of the areas in which we could develop a competitive advantage as there is a significant demand for honey and other by-products, said Agriculture Minister Floyd Green said.
Jamaica exports honey to several countries, including the UK, US, Bermuda, and the US Virgin Islands. The importation of honey into Jamaica is restricted.
Green noted that the government, through the Agriculture Ministry, is ramping up its research and development efforts to satisfy these demands.
He added that the Apiculture Unit has carried out two levels of hygienic testing on 30 colonies of bees from which five queens (colonies) were selected. Production of daughter cells is now in progress with the intent to supply the market with quality breeding material.
The ministry has also been strengthening its infrastructure at Bodles Research Station and has refurbished the Apiculture Unit with the construction of two laboratories, four offices, a storage area, and a staff common room as part of the Bodles Redevelopment Project.
A total of $295 million has been approved for the redevelopment.