FAO starts training on sustainable beekeeping in the Pacific

September 7, 2022, Nadi/Apia
This week, the FAO and Fiji Beekeepers Association kicked off the first-ever FAO training on sustainable beekeeping for Pacific beekeepers and government representatives. Taking place in the Fiji cities of Nadi and Rakiraki, the 6-day intensive course offers theoretical and practical classes and knowledge-sharing sessions for 12 participants from the Cook Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The course aims to develop the capabilities of local beekeepers and government officials responsible for beekeeping operations in the Pacific, specifically addressing their needs and knowledge gaps. The activities will also provide a solid basis for developing or updating the countries’ existing guidelines on beekeeping and apiculture.

“This training is especially important because the people of the South Pacific don’t get this kind of exposure in beekeeping,” said Nilesh Kumar, the president of the Fiji Beekeepers Association. “Fiji has a lot of experience and knowledge to share with our neighboring countries. We are confident that the activities will help them build the industry in their respective communities so that they can become self-sufficient by producing their own honey as Fiji is doing now.

During the course, participants will receive both theoretical and practical training on queen breeding and extraction, filtering and settling, beehive and equipment, honey bottling and marketing, etc. The course will also explore value-added bee products. Since beekeeping is fairly new in some Pacific countries, the industry focuses mainly on honey production and waxes as its main source of income. The participants investigate other bee products that can provide alternative or additional income, such as pollen, propolis, royal jelly, venom, queens, bees and their larvae.

The activities mainly include hands-on training in apiaries in the Nadi and Rakiraki areas, making this course an invaluable learning experience. The train-the-trainer element of the course ensures that participants bring the knowledge gained back to their home countries to further enhance and improve beekeeping practices in the Pacific.

“Beekeeping was well introduced in Vanuatu in 2016, so the industry is still new and fragile. We have some experience, but we can also learn a lot from our neighbors in the Pacific.”

The participants will also explore and share experiences in combating the productive and sustainable beekeeping challenges they face in their respective countries. Among them are lack of capacity development opportunities, vulnerability to extreme weather events such as cyclones and floods, lack of hibernation due to the tropical climate, humidity and temperature levels. One of the important parts of the course focuses on pests and diseases that can affect bees in the Pacific Ocean.

“We are very pleased to launch this first Pacific training on beekeeping, which represents the core values ​​of the FAO’s capacity building activities – south-south, practical and focused knowledge sharing. We are confident that this training will help participating countries improve the sustainability, productivity and profitability of beekeeping,” said Ms Xiangjun Yao, FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands.

Beekeeping is a widespread and global activity, with millions of beekeepers depending on bees for their livelihood and wellbeing. Along with wild pollinators, bees play an important role in preserving biodiversity, ensuring the survival and reproduction of many plants, supporting forest regeneration, promoting sustainability and adaptation to climate change, and improving the quantity and quality of agricultural productions.

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