Argentina, the third largest exporter of natural honey in the world, is to assist Barbados develop a viable apiculture industry.
The South American country with an estimated US$200 million in honey sales, will provide the assistance under ApiCaribe, an innovative project of the Argentina Embassy 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.
Speaking at the launch of the project, Agriculture and Food Security Minister, Indar Weir, said that apiculture was one of five areas earmarked for development within the wider agricultural sector.
Weir said given the amount of money spent on honey imports, 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,” Weir said.
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 and Weir added that the authorities would also be seeking to tap into the export market through the production, bottling and sale of honey under the popular Carmeta’s brand.
Argentina’s Ambassador, Gustavo Pandiani said ApiCaribe provided the opportunity to not only increase local honey production, but to be innovative.
He said 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.
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 from the Universidad Nacional del Sur.