The year 2019 ends and we start the final phase of this beautiful project that has given us so much, and I am not just talking about the possibility of having a broad view of beekeeping in Latin America, collecting data and training. This project has gone much further, it has given us the possibility to share with the beekeepers in their environment, with their apiaries and families, to know a little more about their daily life, their culture and customs.
Based on all this, the conclusions are clear: we are facing an industry whose protagonists are simple, fighting people who above all love what they do. The bees can sting very hard and the beekeepers are there to take care of them day by day.
No one is clearer than they are about the importance of this insect for the environment and the production of the crops that feed the world. In that sense, it is society that owes them a debt.
In Latin America there is a lack of development, technology transfer and knowledge that beekeepers are eager to receive, a lack of public policies to guide their management practices with a country vision to increase the benefits of all actors in the beekeeping chain.
I was once asked, is there any country where this debt to beekeepers does not exist? Cuba, I answered, without a second’s hesitation. Because no one -whether or not I agree with its social system- can deny that this country has consolidated itself as an example in this field for all Latin America and, I dare say without fear of being wrong, also for the world.
Setting the tone
Cuba has a beekeeping that, although private, is organized by a state company, with a country vision, based on science.
The result is safe, traceable and quality bee products that allow them to export 10,000 tonnes per year to the European Union. Thanks to this, Cuba has committed beekeepers, with incomes proportional to their excellent productions and, above all, happy to work with the Cuban Beekeeping Company APICUBA.
In this sense, the island sets the standard for what it means to do the job well. It is not a coincidence that it is a Cuban expert who guides the project Beekeeping Health 2020 LatAm and that the training received by the team members, including me, has been in this country.
The process is not easy. Those of us who love this field know that we have to change minds and move wills, especially political ones, but we are moving forward. Having as an example a country where things have been done well helps us not to give up and look to the future with optimism, to visualize that it is possible to change and have an organized beekeeping.
I thank all the teachers who received us in Cuba, the specialists, the APICUBA staff and the matanzero beekeepers, who were willing to share knowledge, joy, hospitality and, above all, the desire to show the world a job well done, with which they achieve the pride of producing 100 kg of honey per hive per year.
Leslie Vallejos Farías
Bee Health 2020 LatAm Researcher