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FAO Kicks Off Training On Sustainable Beekeeping In The Pacific

7 September 2022, Nadi/Apia This week, FAO and Fiji Beekeepers Association kicked off the first-ever FAO training on sustainable apiculture for Pacific beekeepers and Government representatives. Taking place in the Fijian towns of Nadi and Rakiraki, the 6-day intensive course will feature theoretical and practical lessons and knowledge-sharing sessions for 12 participants coming from the Cook Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The course aims at developing the capacities of local beekeepers and government officers responsible for beekeeping activities in the Pacific specifically targeting 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 as the people in the South Pacific do not get this kind of exposure in beekeeping,” says Nilesh Kumar, the President of Fiji Beekeepers Association. “Fiji has a lot of experience and knowledge to share with our neighbouring countries. We are convinced the activities will help them build the industry in their respective communities so they can become self-sufficient producing their own honey like Fiji does now.

During the course, the participants will receive both theoretical and practical training on queen breeding honey harvesting and extraction, filtering and settling, hive and equipment, honey bottling and marketing etc. The course will also explore value-added bee products. As apiculture is fairly new to some of the Pacific countries, the sector mainly focuses on the production of honey and wax as the main sources of income. The participants will explore other bee products that can create alternative or additional revenues, such as pollen, propolis, royal jelly, venom, queens, bees and their larvae.

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The activities will mostly include hands-on training in apiaries in Nadi and Rakiraki areas, making this course a truly invaluable educational experience. The train-the-trainer element of the course will ensure that the participants will bring the acquired knowledge back to their home countries to further enhance and improve apiculture practices in the Pacific.

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

The participants will also explore and share experiences in combatting the challenges to productive and sustainable beekeeping they face in their respective countries. Among them are lack of capacity development opportunities, vulnerabilities to extreme weather events like cyclones and floods, lack of hibernation period due to the tropical climate, humidity and temperature levels. One of the important parts of the course will be focused on pests and diseases that might affect bees in the Pacific.

“We are very happy to kick start this first Pacific training on beekeeping that represents the core values of FAO’s capacity-building activities – south-south, practical and targeted knowledge sharing. We are sure this training will help the participating countries to improve the sustainability, productivity and profitability of apiculture”, said Ms Xiangjun Yao, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands.

Beekeeping is a widespread and global activity, with millions of beekeepers depending on bees for their livelihoods and well-being. Together with wild pollinators, bees play a major role in maintaining biodiversity, ensuring the survival and reproduction of many plants, supporting forest regeneration, promoting sustainability and adaptation to climate change, improving the quantity and quality of agricultural productions.

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