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Honey importation ban to be removed

By Marlene Augustine Saturday, June 7 2014

The total ban that currently exists on the importation of honey is to be removed, due to the Government’s intent to keep in line with current trade relations relevant to the importation of the product.

In a release yesterday, the Government explained that consideration must be given to the fact that the situation creates a serious dilemma for TT as the major exporter of goods through the Caricom and the wider region.

It cited an example, under current conditions Grenada which imports 45.9 percent of its products from TT, cannot export its honey to Trinidad and Tobago.

The Government’s position on the local honey industry is that in order to satisfy the regional and international obligations with respect to the industry, it has to remove the total ban that currently exists in respect of the importation of the product.

Concurrently, the necessary safeguards to ensure the continued existence and development of the local industry, must be introduced.

This information was provided by a release from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications office, in response to a protest outside of the Parliament held by the members of the local Apiculture Society.

The release pointed out that TT’s commitments under regional and international agreements, namely the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the World Trade Organisation Agreement.

These agreements it pointed out, obligates TT to treat with its trading partners in a particular fashion, and as such TT must take necessary steps to ensure that the Beekeeping and Bee Products Act and regulations are in compliance with the regional and international obligations.

The Government of TT is aware that technical assistance is required for the development and growth of this industry.

Also, the Ministry of Food Production has commenced a number of initiatives with this goal in mind, therefore, the major objectives being address involves the improvements of laboratory facilities to tests the product.

A small group of beekeepers took to the pavement in front the Parliament building yesterday to protest the proposed importation of honey allegedly by the Ministry of Trade.

The beekeepers say they view this as a lack of respect from Government officials.

Vice-President of Trinidad and Tobago Apiculture Corporation Society, Bede Rajahram, said “bees are responsible for about one third of our food supply and the Government is proposing to legalise the importation of honey.

However, he said local honey prices can be reduced if Government invests in the industry, starting with honouring the 1997 Cabinet note.

“The Trade Minister Vasant Bharath intends to start the importation of foreign honey by September, 2014, even though this time frame was unrealistic to ensure that TT has a Certified Laboratory for the required testing of imported honey,” he said.

Rajahram said more honey was required from the Beekeepers by the Food Production Minister even though the 1997 Cabinet Note to provide “access” to lands for bees to forage (feed), and this has not yet been honoured.

“Imported honey is contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, and disease carrying pathogens. Imported honey exposes our local industry to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has wiped out millions of bee-hives across Europe and the USA,” he noted.

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