Bonbon Honey Creating a Buzz in Haiti

With help from an FAO project, Hilarion has modernised his beekeeping techniques and increased his honey production. Photo via FAO /Josué Saint) Charles
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Haitian beekeepers are working hard to keep up with demand during the COVID-19 outbreak

(Food and Agriculture Organisation) The commune of Bonbon lies at the most western tip of the island of Haiti. It shares its name with the traditional Haitian sweet, ‘bonbon’, a cake made with dark sugarcane syrup and sweet spices. And thanks to 44-year-old Hilarion Célestin and a group of local beekeepers, the area is now well-known for another kind of sweet too: honey.  

Growing up in Bonbon, a rural area of the island, bordered by the luscious, wild beaches typical of the Caribbean region, Hilarion learnt his trade at an early age. Whilst many of his peers grew up in agricultural families – the area is known for both fishing and production of local crops such as bananas, cassava and plantains – Hilarion grew up amongst beehives. Over the past few years, the area’s reputation for honey production has continued to grow, and now for many Haitian residents, the town of Bonbon is synonymous with the sweet, sticky syrup.

The impact of COVID

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic spelled disaster for the island in many ways. The impact on health and the medical system was the first enormous challenge, but the economic impact was a close second. Many businesses ground to a halt and agricultural work decreased, as many farmers were required to stay home because of the containment measures implemented by the Haitian Government.  

The honey business was one of the very few exceptions to this rule. For Hilarion and the 30 other local beekeepers in the Bonbon Beekeepers Association, they noticed that there was marked increase in demand for their honey, due to its wide use in traditional Haitian medicine.

Read more at: Food and Agriculture Organisation

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