Youth in Agriculture – Young bee-keepers sweet on their profession
Young people across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are demonstrating how innovation, imagination, dexterity, and raw ambition can augment food production, generate employment and assist in achieving ambitious food security goals.
They are on a mission, as one clearly indicated, to “make agriculture sexy again”!
The year 2022 will be remembered as one where agriculture took centre-stage on the economic agenda, as indicators painted a stark picture of the threat of looming inability to feed ourselves. The emphasis on agriculture and food security intensifies this year, two years shy of the deadline the Community has set itself to reduce its high food import bill by 25 per cent. When Heads of Government of CARICOM meet in The Bahamas 15-17 February for their Forty-fourth Meeting, regional food and nutrition security will be an important area of focus.
Last year, two agricultural investment forums – one in Guyana and the other in Trinidad and Tobago – served as catalysts for exposure of what the Region is doing to be food secure, and for renewed interest in the agriculture sector. Achieving the 25 per cent reduction in the food import bill by 2025 was the over-arching goal of the interventions.
There were rallying calls for the young people of the Region to become more involved in the sector. They are heeding the call. The CARICOM Secretariat, with support from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) highlighted the enterprising youth in a social media campaign titled ‘I Am Agriculture: Youth in Agriculture’. The campaign showed young people’s involvement and success in a range of activities at small scale to commercial levels, in areas such as beekeeping, poultry farming, food processing, hydroponics and value-added production.
From hobby to business
“Some bees were found in my house, and I was thrilled to see how they were removed. The beekeepers who came asked me if I wanted to get inside and see what it’s like… so I donned a suit and jumped in and the rest was history thereafter. So, some bees entered my house and from then I took bee-keeping as a hobby and now I’ve made it into a business which I use as a side income to supplement my main income,” said Jamuel Philip of Antigua and Barbuda.
Jamuel is one of the young persons featured on the campaign.
He said the best part of his business is harvesting the honey, but he also takes delight in experimenting and turning the honey by-products into value-added products such as lip balms, lotions and tinctures.
I fell in love with beekeeping
Miguel Heurtas’ route to success in apiculture began in high school where there was a beekeeping programme.
“I fell in love with beekeeping… Apiculture is not only the rearing of honey but also the importance that bee-keeping plays, which is pollination…,” Miguel said.
Miguel, a Belizean, who is also featured in the social media campaign, added that he is also passionate about the environment and the eco-system.
“One of the biggest accomplishments that I had since having this apiary, I can say that this apiary has not only produced honey, but also pollinates and improves the eco-system around our district,” he said.
He has issued a call for more young people and women to become involved in apiculture, as he pointed out that older persons dominate the sector in Belize.
Head over to https://www.youtube.com/user/caricomorg to listen to the experiences of the young beekeepers, Jamuel and Miguel, and other youth in the agriculture sector.