According to Caribbean 360, Jamaican beekeepers have been learning how to fight the highly-contagious American Foulbrood Disease (AFB) that affects hives in Jamaica. The AFD bacteria feeds on bee larvae and pupa, causing drastic reductions in the bee population, and the eventual death of a hive, if left untreated. As part of a special program, the beekeepers are being trained to monitor their own hives for the disease; some of the farmers have also been certified as AFB inspectors to assist with ongoing assessments by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Permanent Secretary Donovan Stanberry said a six-month project undertaken by the ministry to eradicate the disease has put bee-keepers in a position to effectively manage the disease and move the industry forward. He said that with the disease now under control, stakeholders can operate with fewer losses, and focus more on the value-added aspect of the industry.
“Through this project, we have been able to address one of the major obstacles in the production process. Hopefully, with the eradication activities that we undertook, we are now at a stage where we can monitor and ensure that we maintain the clean record as far as American Foulbrood Disease is concerned, but the industry must grow beyond that,” he stated.
The Permanent Secretary noted that Jamaica is one of few countries certified to export honey to territories in the European Union (EU), and urged stakeholders to take advantage of that facility.
“To be certified to export any product of animal origin to the EU, it means that you would have had to have the appropriate regulatory system in place to ensure safe food going to the EU. It means that the Veterinary Services Division would have to be in top form with the array of specialists required to ensure that. We have done that, it is now time for enterprising people to come on board, and take advantage of that,” he said.
The JM$40 million (US$464,198) project, which targeted six parishes, ended this month. It was funded by the EU with support from the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture, the All Island Bee Farmers’ Association, and the Jamaica Federation of Commercial Apiculturists.
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