New apiary in the Orange Hill Training Institute
The beekeeping sector in St Vincent and the Grenadines has taken another step towards its full commercialization.
This was the common message advanced by the keynote speakers from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Beekeepers Association Inc. (BKAI), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour.
The occasion was the handling over ceremony for new apiculture equipment and tools to support the operation of the recently opened apiary at the Orange Hill Training Institute. This apiary was opened specifically for the rearing of queens to drive the expansion in apiculture championed by the BKAI, the Ministry of Agriculture and other technical agencies.
Michael Dalton, IICA’s Technical Specialist provided a background to the development of the queen rearing activity in St Vincent and the Grenadines. He pointed out that IICA is administering the project on behalf of the FAO and that the initiative for queen rearing was part of a package of activities that IICA has the responsibility for implementing under the Zero Hunger Challenge Initiative Action Plan for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He further indicated that the initiative was a partnership of four institutions, including: (1) The Ministry of Agriculture providing technical support, lands and facilities; (2) The FAO providing financial support; (3) IICA managing the implementation of the project; and (4) The BKAI as the prime beneficiaries of the process and providing guidance for effective implementation of the activities.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Chief Agricultural Officer Ashley Cain reiterated the importance of bees to the ecology, and their contribution to agricultural production and productivity, through not only their output of honey and other bees’ products but also through their contribution to the process of pollination. According to Cain, “we have an opportunity to build an industry here in St Vincent and the Grenadines that can become world class”. He urged the parties to work collectively to engage youths in beekeeping to help to champion innovations that would be necessary to build this industry.
Beverly Reddock, President of the BKAI, spoke to the importance of beekeeping to the general environment and the interest of the BKAI in promoting its expansion. She pointed to the possibilities for expansion in output of honey and diversification into other products including beeswax and pollen.
The FAO’s National Correspondent, Dr Coleen Philips, emphasized the commitment of the FAO to apiculture, demonstrated through its work in St Vincent and the Grenadines and across the wider Caribbean. She indicated to the audience that the FAO’s investment in the current initiative for queen rearing amounted to some EC$45,000, most of which was invested in purchase of equipment and tools and training of farmers. She urged the stakeholders to put the resources invested to good use.
The handover ceremony ended with a brief visit to the new apiary and the handover of the first queen to a representative of Dennis Gaymes, a beekeeper from the community of Layou.
Allan Williams, Apiculture Culture Technician was the master of ceremony for the day’s proceedings.