Harnessing the Benefits of the Birds and the Bees
13th March 2020
Nassau, THE BAHAMAS — University of The Bahamas (UB) students learnt about the ‘birds and the bees’ at a recent interactive session where the focus was on food sustainability and economic empowerment.
Homegrown chicken farming and beekeeping was the focus on day two of UB’s Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences (CELS) Week. Industry experts showed students and faculty the benefits of being involved in both sectors, particularly in a small island developing state like The Bahamas.
The presentations were under the theme, “The Science of Sustainability: Fostering ‘Homegrown’ Practices in The Bahamas”.
CELS Lecturer Mr. Justin Taylor explained that homegrown chicken farming is one of the best investments Bahamians can make, especially since chicken is an ever-present feature in staple Bahamian dishes.
“Growing what you eat is empowerment,” said Mr. Taylor. “You want to know that I can grow this chicken, I can have my small business, I’m providing a food source, I’m providing good meat that is actually free of steroids and hormones and other products. And then you have good traceability, meaning that in The Bahamas we are known not to have all of these hormones and stuff, that our diet is just based on the ingredients that are here.
“So the sustainable approach is the cost of production could be low, yet healthy at the same time. So you’re getting something affordable, you’re getting something healthier, and you’re getting something that is available.”
Ms. Shacara Lightbourne, Acting Country Representative for the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), shared with the audience the benefits of beekeeping, also known as apiculture. She also gave eager attendees samples of honey from a local beekeeping farm.
“I think beekeeping is very important to The Bahamas, particularly because our environment is very fragile,” she said. “We import almost 97 percent of our food, so food security is a huge issue for us. And the bees are needed to help to increase our production yield, so the more bees we have, the more food we can produce. And we have to find that fine balance between our environment and our economy.”
According to Alex Holden, chairman of the newly-formed Bahamas National Beekeepers Co-Operative (BNBC), commercial beekeepers in The Bahamas can make more than $100,000 a year , based on consumer demand for honey, bees wax, royal jelly, propolis (used to treat wounds and infections) and other bee-related products.
Ms. Lightbourne also indicated that interested persons could earn a living by providing bee removal services, at a starting rate of $200.
“It’s also a great opportunity for budding young entrepreneurs,” she explained. “It’s something easy to get into. And there’s so many different products you can yield from bees, not only the honey, the wax. Like I tell my students, your honey soaps could be in all the hotels in the country. I don’t see why we have to import soaps from elsewhere when we can make soap here.”
CELS week featured a number of other workshops and lectures on various aspects of local homegrown practices including aquaculture, composting and recycling, and caves and blue holes.
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University of The Bahamas
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Chartered on 10th November 2016, University of The Bahamas (UB) is a beacon for national transformation. Approximately 5,000 students are enrolled in the University of The Bahamas system which includes campuses and centres on New Providence, Grand Bahama, San Salvador and Abaco, as well as UB online education. UB’s diverse academic programmes, research engagements, athletics and leadership development experiences equip our students to become global citizens in a dynamic world.