After the BES-Net Caribbean Regional Trialogue on Pollinators, Food Security and Climate Resilience and subsequent national dialogue in 2018, awareness and interest in pollinators and pollination issues has increased significantly in Antigua and Barbuda, notably the protection of local pollinator species from various threats. For example, ongoing media campaigns encourage the general public to contact members of the Antigua Beekeeping Cooperative on pollinator issues, such as removal of swarms and bees in residences and commercial spaces, where rampant land clearing is observed, cutting of trees and use of chemicals and pesticides. Recently with the outbreak of mosquito infestation and cases of dengue fever on the rise, malathion has been used in the fogging exercises, but this has been harmful to the bees.
Honey is a major commodity in Antigua and Barbuda. At present, due to the difficulty to meet the local honey consumer demands, the country depends highly on honey and honey products import estimated at 35,329 kg in 2017, valued at ec$244,106/US$91,084.32. Thanks to the ongoing awareness raising campaign, the Antigua Beekeeping Cooperative is receiving growing number of beekeeping training requests, as an opportunity to generate new income particularly for the youth. The main objective of the training is to split strong vibrant colonies of bees and raise new queens.
Ms. Ruth Spencer, National Coordinator of GEF/SGP and a participant of the Caribbean Regional Trialogue, is working to build a coalition with the Antigua Beekeeping Cooperative and the Ministry of Agriculture to support the training, including the promotion of south-south cooperation by engaging the experts from neighboring island countries. The vision of the cooperative is to increase the local production of honey and honey products (e.g. food items and cosmetics) and therefore, reduce import by 50 per cent in the next few years. This work is expected to contribute to the ongoing recovery effort in Barbuda severely hit by Hurricane Irma in 2018.
Building on the Trialogue experience, Ms. Spencer has also been playing a pivotal role in linking the concerned local farmers, community groups and citizen scientists to government technicians and researchers to create an environment where knowledge on pollinators/pollination are better communicated and decisions and actions undertaken in more informed and collaborative manner.