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JDAT grant recipient looks to commercial bee farming

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RECIPIENT of the Jamaica Diaspora Agriculture Task force’s (JDAT) initial Investor Circle micro grants, Patricia Parchment plans to venture into commercial bee farming.

Parchment, who is currently involved in the harvesting and bottling of honey as well as the manufacturing of lotions and hair oils, is looking to get into large-scale queen bee rearing and beeswax production.

She tells JIS News that despite these being absorbing engagements regarded as unconventional areas for women, they are lucrative, and encourages other female farmers to give consideration to getting involved.

Among the benefits to be derived, she notes, are extensive training and the opportunity to better understand the characteristics of bees.

Parchment, who is president of the Westmoreland Bee Farmers’ Association, says she wants to get more farmers involved in bee farming as well as assist with the development of youth in agriculture.

“My hope is for the bee industry to be taken seriously, as it is a very lucrative industry,” she says.

Parchment says bee farming is multidimensional, pointing out that “I am now venturing into soap-making in an effort to use up the bee products, such as wax and honey, in my products as much as possible.”

The bee farmer says while she currently sells to the general public, she aspires to further develop her apiary in an effort to expand sales to outlets, such as supermarkets.

Parchment, who notes that she is relatively new to the industry, indicates that she started three years ago with one hive.

She says, however, that the business is growing, and boasts that she has increased the number to 27, adding that her goal of becoming a commercial bee farmer requires her having 120 hives.

Parchment points out that bee farming equipment is very expensive, noting challenges which females in particular encounter in sourcing these, hence, she adds, the reason she applied for the Diaspora’s Investor Circle micro grant.

She is among the first five beneficiaries of funds ranging between $50,000 and $75,000.

Parchment, who is also a member of the Westmoreland Organic Farmers Society, says she hopes the grant will enable her to fulfil her dream of being a commercial bee farmer, thereby accessing the export market and generating significantly greater earnings.

A 2009 Agriculture and Fisheries survey showed that of 1,202 registered Jamaican bee farmers, only 137 were females.

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