Industry challenges | Congress to strengthen beekeeping sector skills
24 May, 2023, 4:45 pm
More than 200 beekeepers from 10 different Pacific Island countries are part of a week-long event to learn, network, and strengthen beekeeping industry skills, knowledge and partnerships in the region.
The 1st Pacific Islands Bee Congress is being held at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi from May 22 to 26.
According to the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) the inaugural Pacific Islands Beekeeping Congress is an initiative stemmed from an ACIAR-funded research project led by Southern Cross University (SCU) aiming to improve the productivity and profitability of smallholder beekeeping.
Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) project co-ordinator and congress organising committee member Ian Kennedy said the event would be monumental for beekeeping in the region.
“The congress is bringing together Fijian beekeepers and beekeepers throughout the Pacific, combining discussions and roundtables on the most pressing and challenging issues.
“The congress will also feature practical and relevant hands-on workshops,” he said.
“Despite having low numbers of beehives and low production in comparison to world standards, beekeeping in the Pacific region has been shown to have a higher return on time investment than any other crop or livestock production systems.
“Additionally, beekeeping has a major contribution to income smoothing given the non-perishable nature of bee products,” Mr Kennedy said.
Project leader and SCU Lecturer Dr Cooper Schouten said the congress was an opportunity for Pacific beekeepers to share lessons learnt, network and gain practical skills and knowledge that they could implement in their industries back home.
Meanwhile Dr Anna Okello, ACIAR Research Program Manager, Livestock Systems said improving community-based control of diseases in the Pacific that constrain production and trade of bees, honey and other bee products was important that would have direct benefits to Australia.
“We’ve seen firsthand in Australia how devastating bee diseases can be, and anything we can do to improve the region’s biosecurity capacity is invaluable to food security and rural livelihoods,” said Dr Okello.
Congress participants include beekeepers, government and industry representatives from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, Cook Islands, New Zealand, and Australia.
The event, the first of its kind for the region, is being delivered in partnership with the Fiji Beekeepers Association and PIFON.