FIJI HONEY GROWERS ENJOY INCREASED DEMAND

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 6) – Honey producers in Fiji are enjoying increased demand for their products since the country stopped importing honey due to quarantine requirements.

The Agriculture Ministry in its publication Marketwatch revealed there were about 5,500 hives producing 130 tons of honey worth FJ$1.5 million (US$904,000) annually in the country.

However, agriculture officer Kamal Prasad said there was still a need for at least an additional 50 tons of honey.

"The Agriculture Ministry will establish 400 new hives and the private sector will place another 500 hives, which will increase the production to 160 tons per year," Prasad said.

About 47 tons of honey worth FJ$470,000 (US$283,000) was harvested in the first and second quarter of this year.

At the moment, a wholesale price of 750ml bottle of honey is selling between FJ$7 (US$4) and FJ$10 (US$6) while the retail price ranged from FJ$10 to FJ$20 per bottle.

Apart from honey, other products such as beeswax, propolis, royal jelly and pollen were also marketable, Marketwatch said.

Royal jelly, which is high in protein and used for the manufacture of cosmetics, is sold at $1,500 a kilogram at FJ$60 to FJ$70 a kg, bee wax at FJ$17 to FJ$20 a kg and pollen at FJ$30-$35 a kg.

MH Supermarket is one of the local major buyers of honey followed by other supermarkets, hotels and retail shops.

Last year, there were about 250 beekeepers but this has increased to 300 this year.

At least 20 percent of this number is commercial beekeepers, 30 per cent are semi commercial beekeepers and half are involved in subsistence beekeeping.

"The Western Division is the major honey producing area with 4,00 hives, while the Northern Division has 1000 hives," Prasad said.

The Ministry has upgraded 120 beehives at Batiri farm in Vanua Levu.

Batiri is also the major queen Bee and nucleus bee producing center in Fiji.

This year, the Government has allocated $110,000 towards beekeeping.

"The Rural Farming Assistance Scheme and New Zealand Aid has boosted the beekeeping industry in Fiji," Mr Prasad said.

The Canadian Aid, FAO and ILO are also funding the industry.

Meanwhile, the breadfruit industry is still producing below potential with current exports of about 15 tonnes.

According to the Ministry's strategic plan, exports were supposed to be about 100 tonnes by now.

"It is clear to us that achieving anywhere near breadfruit's market potential will require a concerted effort into the main areas," the Ministry project co-ordinator, Doctor Andrew McGregor said.

"These are moving from wild harvesting to growing breadfruit as a crop and introducing appropriate quality control and post harvest handling procedures.

"The draft manual we are still trying to finalise is intended to assist our growers and exporters in meeting this challenge," he said.

July 7, 2005

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