Caribbean beekeepers continue to test resilience in the face of threats to their industry

Caribbean beekeepers continue to test resilience in the face of threats to their industry

Meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadas (SVG) for the 11th Caribbean Beekeeping Congress, regional and international beekeepers traveled from the south to the Grenadines to see first-hand the impact of the beekeeping project.

The visit to Union Island on Wednesday, November 2nd is the third day of their conference on Building Resilience of the Beekeeping Industry After a Natural Disaster.

The three-day conference opened on Sunday, October 30 at Cruise Ship Fuel.

SVG Beekeepers Association President Beverly Reddock said in her welcome address that the theme was appropriate because hosting the conference showed the association to be resilient in the face of threats from pests, pesticides, global warming and disease.

Reddock told attendees that the association has chosen to promote, educate and develop a viable beekeeping industry in SVG, and that efforts to hold the conference here contribute greatly to the success of local beekeepers.

Today, Wednesday 2 November, delegates are visiting Union Island, where a local association has successfully introduced bees through the Aid to Australia project.

This project helped increase the productivity of traditional crops, namely peas and corn, and stimulated a new entrepreneurial spirit in beekeeping.

Richard Mathias, President of the Caribbean Beekeepers Organizations (ACBO), said in his speech that his organization has seen very important initiatives developed and implemented in the past two years to support beekeeping and, most importantly, improve livelihoods in the Caribbean.

However, he noted that the Caribbean beekeeping sector is still under renewed threats from the ongoing escalation of climate change, the indiscriminate use of pesticides and, most critically, the opening of domestic honey markets to international honey imports.

He said a growing family of beekeepers across the Caribbean had come together to address these issues, citing as an example that in 2021/2022 they were able to plant more than 2,000 trees in the region. their pollinators.

Mathias said ACBO has launched a campaign to reduce pesticide use and promote integrated agricultural practices and biopesticide methods among farmers in member countries.

The organization, he added, has also started a regional conversation on the pros and cons of honey imports in order to provide the necessary support to regional beekeepers who are increasingly facing the threat of “fake” honey to their countries.

“ACBO, as a regional beekeeping sector, can provide honey to the countries it produces, only if they come together to fight the ever-increasing pressure of counterfeit honey that is currently threatening European and North American producers,” said Mathias.

“We cannot allow foreign fake honey to take away our livelihoods, trade, traditions and destroy our biodiversity.”

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Saboto Cesar, declared the congress open and said that some countries block the movement of honey trade in the matter of regionalism; therefore, there are some stakeholders in some member states who do not invest more in honey production and beekeeping in general because they do not have access to very large markets.

“So, as a region, when we talk about the honey import bill, I demand consensus on the removal of trade barriers,” he said.

On the local end, Caesar said the Vector Control Unit fogging is also a problem for beekeepers. He assured the beekeepers that his ministry had written to the Pesticides Board and also involved the Health Minister and the Chief Medical Officer to solve the problem.

“We all know how critical it is to keep mosquitoes out of their way, but we’re not only talking about bee conservation, but a lot of people in science are taking note of that. Better opportunities that we have today that we can use to protect both bees and people.”

Minister Cesar said food security continues to play a very important role not only in production and productivity, but with significant inflation in food prices, food ecosystems must be protected.

Representatives of the Inter-American Institute for the Cooperation of Agriculture (IICA), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Conservation Fund, as well as the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries also attended. opening ceremony.

Certificates were also presented to those who successfully completed the IAC online Beekeeping Course under the South/South Beekeeping and Biodiversity project (API) of GEF, SGP and UNDP.

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