CAMAGUEY, Cuba, Jan 12 (acn) Honey production in central Camaguey province grew for the fourth consecutive year, and already matched output levels from 1991, spurred by the increase of prices the government pays beekeepers.
On October 2011, the Cuban government started buying honey from producers at 600 dollars per ton, a 500 percent increase from the previous purchasing price. Since then, output skyrocketed from 200 metric tons a year to 533 in 2012, the largest amount since 1991.
Omelio Barba, an official with the Cuban Apiculture Enterprise in this central province, said the industry has shown a steady growth after recovering from the negative impact the economic crisis Cuba suffered in the 1990s (the Special Period) had on it.
In 2012, 96 percent of the honey harvested by private beekeepers was of exportation grade, which translated in over 2 million dollars of revenue for the province, Barba said.
Barba said the growth was based on the increase of beehives, favorable weather conditions, with enough rain and no hurricanes, and thye new prices.
"Better prices were great incentive for beekeepers and in my case I harvested 2 metric tons this year, compared to 1.8 last in 2011" beekeeper Mario Ferrán told ACN news agency
He said the higher income allowed him to buy more beehives for the two farms he owns and improve his family life standard. He bought new TV sets, a fridge, and another bed with its mattress. "I sold the honey at 15,600 pesos (some 650 USD)"
Still, the province needs to work harder to tie the historical record, set in 1983 with 1083 metric tons. There are now 132 private beekeepers gathered in 5 cooperatives.
Cuba produced in 2012 6,800 metric tons of honey, despite the low output of the eastern provinces battered by Hurricane Sandy in October. But that figure means an almost 2000 ton growth from what it was producing in 2010. Germany is one of the countries where this product is exported to.