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It will directly benefit 36 bee farmers who are registered members of the Hanover Bee Farmers’ Cooperative Society and 190 bee farmers from the adjoining parishes. Story Highlights The 1,500 square-foot facility was officially handed over to the cooperative society by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) during a recent ceremony held at its location at the old Rural Agricultural and Development Authority (RADA) Parish Office Complex in Lucea, Hanover. Life should get a lot sweeter for more than 200 bee farmers in the western parishes who now have access to a new $27-million state-of-the-art honey-extraction and bottling facility – the first of its kind in Jamaica.By improving market access and increasing their earnings from the sale of honey, bee farmers in Hanover and the adjoining parishes of St. James, Trelawny and Westmoreland should enhance their livelihood significantly from the use of the plant.It will directly benefit 36 bee farmers who are registered members of the Hanover Bee Farmers’ Cooperative Society and 190 bee farmers from the adjoining parishes.The 1,500 square-foot facility was officially handed over to the cooperative society by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) during a recent ceremony held at its location at the old Rural Agricultural and Development Authority (RADA) Parish Office Complex in Lucea, Hanover.It has been outfitted with modern equipment, including frame honey extractors, stainless-steel storage tanks, settling tanks and honey strainers.Expressing his gratitude for the plant on behalf of the beneficiaries, Manager of the Cooperative Society, Winfield Murray, notes that it will serve to develop the local apicultural industry in the target parishes, by equipping bee farmers with the right tools to remain sustainable.He points out that the facility will provide proper storage, supply and logistics services and reduce waste by farmers in the use of other outputs from the hives, such as beeswax, propolis (bee glue), and pollen.“This, in turn, will enable bee farmers to access local and export markets and earn greater incomes for their effort,” he says.Mr. Murray tells JIS News that he is pleased that the facility will offer packaging services for bee farmers, which will ensure that honey and its by-products are prepared according to international agro food-processing safety standards.The facility has attained Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and related international food-safety certification.In addition, a series of comprehensive agro-processing training, including food safety, sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOP) and equipment maintenance, have been conducted with select community groups.Meanwhile, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, says the facility will provide a further boost to the fast-growing beekeeping industry, which provides direct employment for 3,000 families.He notes that the opening of the facility is in keeping with the Ministry’s emphasis on moving primary production of agricultural produce along the value chain towards full commercialisation.“This is my vision, where I want to see us move from just growing the raw material and exporting it. We have to move into the value chain; that is where the money is,” he says.JSIF’s Managing Director, Omar Sweeney, explains that the construction and equipping of the facility was facilitated under the Fund’s Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Project, which has the overall objective to improve market access for micro and small rural agricultural producers.He notes that the facility also affords bee farmers greater competitiveness, attracts new buyers, and allows entry to international markets as well as the opportunity to earn additional revenues from the production of high-quality by-products.The Government, through JSIF, provided funding for the project amounting to $23.3 million, while the Hanover Bee Farmers’ Cooperative Society contributed $3.7 million. Life should get a lot sweeter for more than 200 bee farmers in the western parishes who now have access to a new $27-million state-of-the-art honey-extraction and bottling facility – the first of its kind in Jamaica.