BRIDGETOWN, Barbados— On July 15th, the Embassy of Argentina and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), launched in Bridgetown an innovative triangular cooperation project aimed at assisting local beekeepers and other stakeholders of the honey production sector.
This joint initiative, in collaboration with the ministry of agriculture of Barbados and the Barbados Beekeeping Association, includes several site visits to apiaries all over the island, as well as a series of training workshops by Argentine experts Liliana Gallez and Elian Tourn, who travelled to the Caribbean to help develop the apiculture sector.
The opening ceremony was held at the Embassy of Argentina, and was presided by ambassador Gustavo Martinez Pandiani, minister of agriculture and food security, Indar Weir, and IICA representative Ena Harvey.
During his remarks, ambassador Pandiani said “I believe ApiCaribe is a great opportunity for Barbados to reinforce its honey production capabilities, while creating new job opportunities for the youth and women. The island has a vast potential for Apiculture given its rich diversity in flora and fauna”.
Meanwhile, Ena Harvey state,d “IICA, a leader in Apiculture with several important projects in the region based on the installation of the Argentine ´Perone Hive´ decided to partner up with Argentina to maximize the great potential of the honey industry in terms of socio-economic benefits, particularly for rural communities”.
The main objective of ApiCaribe is to develop apiculture as an integrated farming practice which promotes scientific beekeeping, and enhances the productivity of crops through pollination, while increasing the income and welfare of farmers and the wider society. The expected benefits of this triangular project for Barbados are better utilization of biodiversity resources; sustainable land management; development of an “a apitourism niche”; and positioning of local honey as an authentic organic product.
Additionally, this ambitious project is aimed at building capacity among the local beekeepers so that they can contribute meaningfully to the development of an industry plan and a marketing strategy for the production of local honey products (including colonies), and their introduction into the domestic and foreign markets.
While referring to the benefits of the project for Barbados, minister Weir highlighted that “Apiculture is one of the key areas identified by prime minister Mia Mottley for our agricultural development. The value of honeybees extends beyond their critical role in the agro-ecosystem as pollinators. With this technical assistance, our women could develop small businesses through the bottling and sale of honey or making soaps and other products derived from honey, wax, royal jelly and pollen, all of which have tremendous commercial value”.
Together with the vast experience of IICA, Argentina brings to the Caribbean its history as a honey production world leader. The South American country is today the third largest exporter of natural honey in the world, with an estimated US$200 million in honey sales.
In closing the ceremony, ambassador Pandiani drew smiles and chuckles from the audience when he said “I fell in love with Barbados immediately after my arrival and am still enjoying our honeymoon. After more than a year here, this is the longest honeymoon ever. I truly hope this honey project keeps sweetening the excellent bilateral relation between our two countries”.