Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Andrew Hancel

Andrew Hancel

To those who know him it is still amazing how such a talented dancehall artiste remains relatively unknown in Jamaica.

But with so many artistes around and new materials being churned out by the second on a daily basis, the obfuscation of good talent does happen in the music industry especially without the right supporting cast.

This happens to be the case for the unquestionably talented DJ Badd Cash, who has been penning his own songs since the mid 1990s while attending Old Harbour High School.

Some 20 years onwards Badd Cash aka Hikaliba is still seeking that major break highlighted in some of his latest songs Lucky Day, Seven to Seven among others.

“Mi jus a look into life and a se things just too unfortunate for me. Why mi se that? Mi jus feel like doing what mi want to do and you hear it and love it just like that,” said the artiste named Morvin Pennant, who was born and raised in Water Lane, Old Harbour.

The artiste believes his lack of recognition in the industry is largely due in part to dishonest management practices.

Despite the setbacks, the 37-year-old dancehall act is determined more than ever getting to the top.

“Mi have a label right now that me and a brethren put together. Mi have a song done already on this new label, but technically speaking it nuh release it. It done mix by Nico Marshall from Switzerland on a rhythm name Mek It Bun and my song name Nuh Trust Dem on the rhythm. So we have that ready fi road and we have other songs ready fi the road too. I have a song name Soldier that’s getting good views right now. So basically mi a put things together,” he told Old Harbour News.

According Badd Cash, who spent a few years in Switzerland, persons who get to hear his music are usually impressed and often express the desire to work with him. But that’s where his biggest obstacle, in terms of real progression, remains.

“I am currently working with True Lyfe in terms of a management team but we haven’t sign off on anything official as yet. We met like some five years ago. There was some misunderstanding but we pass that and we now putting some moves in play,” he said.

“It’s just natural people coming together on this effort showing their love for the music but more specifically my music.”

The artiste informed Old Harbour News that one of his top tracks is included on a recent mixed tape titled All or Nothing compiled the very popular DJ Deala out of England. Most of his songs are available on media platforms such as iTunes, YouTube, SoundCloud, among others.

Former Old Harbour High school student Kevon Godfrey died peacefully in the United States of America after a tough battle with cancer.

Last year the 16-year-old earned a basketball scholarship to Redemption Christian Academy in Boston, Massachusetts after his talent was spotted by US scouts.

At six feet, three inches, Godfrey, who grew up in the Marlie Acres community of Old Harbour had a bright future ahead of him. He had dreams of playing in the NBA, a promise he made to his mother who was by his beside in his final moments on August 5 at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in New York.

In his first few months at Redemption, Godfrey received the worst news anyone could possibly hear. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right knee – a rare kind of cancer that grows in connective tissue cells.

Such tumors are most common in the bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, nerves, fat and blood vessels of the arms and legs in humans, according to several medical journals online.

Michael Williams (left) with Kevon Godfrey in hospital recently

Mere months in his new environment in Boston, the young point guard felt what was first thought to be a simple pain that would disappear with a little rest and some over-the-counter cream. But the niggling pain just would not go away.

Further assessment by doctors, would, however, confirm Godfrey’s worst fears. So aggressive was the tumor amputation was the best option.

Rather than losing hope, Godfrey, who accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour and was baptized in the summer of 2016 at the Church of Christ in his community, found renewed strength and vigor from within.

“He was unperturbed by his illness,” Ricardo Edwards, high school coach and mentor, told Old Harbour News. “He was thinking of becoming a coach and how he could represent Jamaica at the Special Olympics Games.”

“While he was experiencing all this, he was very upbeat. We were the ones who were worried about his condition,” Edwards added.

Redemption Christian Academy was convinced by his doubtless talent and remained hopeful that he would become an important asset to its basketball programme.

But so too was Concordia University. The Lutheran-operated church offered the young believer an honorary scholarship even while hospitalized and without any surety of a possible turn around.

His immeasurable faith was a true testimony to those around him and those who came in passing conversation with him. Without doubt his family, friends and community have lost a beautiful soul who inspired them all.

“I saw Kevon for the last time three days ago; my heart is in pain to see a child's dream taken away. I have lost a basketball son. Word cannot express what I am feeling. He fought a courageous battle with mom Sharon Hemley at his side. I saw greatness in Kevon and felt the need to help him to fulfill his dream,” said Jamaican-born African American Michael Williams, another one of Kevon’s mentors.

Kevon Godfrey diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right knee – a rare kind of cancer.

Writing on Facebook, Dr Mark Broomfield, president of the Jamaica Basketball Association, commented: “I am really saddened by his death but I am motivated by the strength of his mother and this young man who showed joy even through the pain. We have lost a great soul.”

Hundreds of condolences have been pouring in since the shocking news about the boy many called ‘Ears’ – due to his obviously large ears – had died.

Even his opponents are touched.

“We were rivals from two different schools in basketball, you were a true competitor and always showed good sportsmanship,” said Mickhail Treasure of York Castle High in paying tribute on behalf of their basketball team. “You played the game with passion and pride and you made your school and the Northern Conference proud.”

Godfrey’s passion for basketball was evident from a tender age, based on anecdotes from those close to him. He promised his mother that he would be future star one day and transform his and her life for the better. He was on that road for sure in the eyes of many, until his untimely passing.

“Kevon brought us a short moment of joy. I saw in him a future NCAA Division One basketball player,” said Williams who scouts Jamaican talent for teams in the United States. “If there are any more Kevon Godfreys out there I want to find them.”

“My prayers and condolences go out to the Godfrey family in this time of bereavement. I pray that God strengthens you in this time and give peace and comfort,” added Edwards, a church minister, who also took part in Godfrey’s baptism.

“I have been privileged to have known Kevon and worked with him. My heart hurts right now. But on behalf of the Old Harbour High basketball family I want to say thank you for lending him to us. He was a son, brother and friend. He made a great impact and most of all gave his life to the Lord.”

The funeral service of the late Kevon Godfrey will be held at the Church of Christ, Marlie Acres, Old Harbour on September 2, 2017, starting 1:00 pm. The viewing of the body starts 11:00 am, while interment is at the Church Pen Cemetery.

In 2010 a group of community members came together to form the Old Harbour United Football Club with one ultimate dream in mind – to play in the premier league.

Several years later their quest remains firmly on track.

In fact the journey is gathering momentum after they won the St Catherine Major League back in April – their biggest achievement to date.

This has propelled them into the Southern Confederation Super League next season, which is one step away from rubbing shoulders with the country’s elite football clubs.

Devroy Gray takes home Golden Boot, MVP awards

An air of togetherness hung around this club which was evident throughout last Sunday’s awards ceremony at the JPS Sports Club in Old Harbour Bay. Each recipient beamed with pride on their way to the podium. It was their night to shine and rightly so.

But the central theme throughout the three-hour ceremony, which ended about two hours before midnight, was getting the club to the very top in football.

An important component driving this dream has been Gore Developments Limited, a prominent construction firm in the country investing $1,000,000.00 into the club over the last two seasons.

Financial support from elsewhere, has also contributed to their success, while other individuals played important roles in kind and were duly recognized on the night.

“We are truly happy for the partnership and the role it has played thus far in mutual support of one to the other. For all of us at Gore Developments it really shows that hard work, commitment, discipline has paid off,” said Pauline Lewis, legal assistant, Gore Developments.

More than half of the club’s players are from this fishing community, which lies on the island’s southern coastline. Many of them have been friends since their childhood days. But they have forged a bond that grows stronger with every day that passes, even amidst flare-ups of violent crimes and the negative stigma of being regarded as a major transshipment point in the drugs for guns trade between Jamaica and Haiti.

But the management team led by club president Errol Cobourne along with his chief lieutenant, vice president Steve Dixon, has done a remarkable job so far.

“When Old Harbour Bay United started we saw where there was plan. A plan to have a good youth programme,” said Peter Reid, the long-serving president of the St Catherine Football Association. “More than 50 per cent of players playing now for Old Harbour Bay United came through their youth programme.

“When you have a programme and you have vision it will come to fruition and tonight is an example of that.”

Another key club figure impressed with the running of the organization is experienced coach Vassell Reynolds, who has coached at the premier league level before.

After their victory over Federal in the final, Reynolds says he “realized the significance of the achievement” as the St Catherine Prison Oval was invaded by Old Harbour Bay supporters after the final whistle.

The former Humble Lion coach said: “I would have worked with premier league teams and super league teams; and the small management group of people you have are some people that have the community and the players at heart. I find that they are pretty much organized much more than management at a higher level that I would have worked with and that is what you want sometimes to be successful.”

“From I came here this evening I keep hearing the notion of the premier league and it must be the ambition of the club to go to the premier league” said Laurence Garriques, who delivered the keynote address.

In outlining what he believes to be three main pillars on which a successful club is built, Garriques, a lecturer in at the University of the West Indies in the faculty of science and sports, said: “We can use football as another means of community development.”

Speaking in the context of Paul Pogba’s world record transfer fee from Juventus to Manchester United, Garriques added: “We need to seriously have a look at what we are doing and how best can we reach these kinds of heights.

“You can imagine how much development, how many resources, how many families and how much the community will change if Old Harbour Bay United had a Paul Pogba amongst you?”

But perhaps Lewis offered the best advice on the night, reminding the club that “today’s success is the beginning of tomorrow’s greatness”.

They have been true to their motto: “A team above all, above all a team”.

Undoubtedly Old Harbour Bay remains united to achieve its dream of one day playing in the premier league.

Over 4,700 athletes assembled at the National Stadium for the May 10-13 Primary School Athletics Championships organized by the state-run Institute of Sports.

But at the end of the championships yesterday, won by Naggo Head Primary, the name Christopher Scott stood head and shoulder above everyone else.

The 12-year-old Old Harbour Primary student was the talk of the championships once he graced the track on the second day in the 200m preliminaries, before joining an elite group of athletes who achieved the sprint double.

This very talented sprinter showed no fears in dispatching his rivals including Naggo Head’s Yourie Lawrence who took the Class Two sprint titles last year.

But in Class One Lawrence was no match for Scott, who was participating in his first major championships of this kind.

Christopher Scott (right) winning the Class One boys’ 200m final ahead of Naggo Head’s Yourie Lawrence

His time of 24.81 seconds in the semi-finals of the 200m had tongues wagging and even talks of threatening Christopher Taylor’s 2012 record of 24.02. And even though he was close to the Taylor’s record in the final, his time of 24.42 seconds was still impressive, as Lawrence was left trailing in his wake.

In the 100m Scott was equally impressive with times of 12.11 and 12.10 done in the preliminary round and the semi-finals respectively and were not too far from Roje Fearon’s 2010 record of 11.90 seconds.

But he could not challenge Fearon’s mark as a strong head-wind made it impossible in the final.

Scott deservedly was named overall champion boy. His two gold medal runs placing Old Harbour Primary 25th out of 94 participating schools.

In a brief chat with Old Harbour News, a proud Ladonna Francis, mother of Scott, says her little speedster simply loves to run.

“From he was three years old he was running,” she said before adding “he has been running in some of the parish meets but this is his first time running here”.

School principal George Goode said he was happy that he made the decision to enter the school with only a small batch of promising athletes.

He wanted to give the most talented youngsters the opportunity to excel, but thanks to Scott, who gave them their only points (19) at the championships, doors are being open that could improve the school’s sporting programme.

The scouts were out in their usual numbers. Surely, Scott will go to one of the top schools with the view of improving his athletic development while exceling academically. Calabar and Kingston College, Old Harbour News understands, are leading the race to land him. He should be fine choosing either.

In 2009, a young man by the name Kemar Bailey-Cole from Old Harbour shot to national prominence.

Eight years later the south coastal town of Old Harbour could lay claim in the near future to giving the country another sprint phenom.

The community awaits with bated breath.

For a decade the Old Harbour Glades Football Corner League, and like many of its kind in other communities, has been a tool for social inclusion and reintegration, personal upliftment and pride.

But the rise in its popularity came about with the advent of the installation of flood lamps to host night matches as hundreds more flocked the community playfield to cheer their favourite team or player.

On the night of September 4 was the climax of season 10, won by Hammer & Nail who defeated Trendsetters 2-1 in an action-packed and contentious final.

Well over 1,000 spectators turn up for the grand finale – a spectacle worth watching with some of Old Harbour’s finest talents on show.

The impact of this fantastic event which kicked off back in May has been tremendous on the field as well as off it.

For vendors the weekly schedule of matches is one they cannot afford to miss, while for the organizers it’s about providing alternate solutions for some of the nation’s social ills perpetuated by joblessness, poverty and crime.

“Wherever we can see something to improve youths that is what we are interested in because we want to develop the youth and make them better persons to help themselves and their families,” said head of the organizing committee Jennifer Hull who resides in the community.

Hull, a diminutive figure with a big passion for sport and youth development, is the elected councillor for the Horizon Park Division in the St Catherine Parish Council. As one of the chief architects behind the league with close of 500 registered players, she speaks with an air of satisfaction. She highlights the immense contribution of Member of Parliament Everald Warmington who took full responsibility outfitting each team with playing gear.

With each passing year the competition expands, said Hull who has increased the prize money this year.

Jennifer Hull (2nd right) meeting the teams

“The crowd support is an example of how united we are. People can come as far as Montego Bay to be a part of this community,” she told Old Harbour News on the final night of competition.

“He (Everald Warmington) has been playing a great role in this competition for the past years and we are very grateful for that,” she added.

Throughout those years the tournament has become a major source of income for vendors, some of whom have travelled from as far as from Spanish Town and May Pen. Ever since she made a conscious decision to setup her little wooden stall on match days, business has been booming for Melesa Lester who is from the community.

“It is helping me a lot to be honest with you,” she told Old Harbour News. “Is it help my kids for back-to-school, pay my bills and everything.”

On most occasions matches end at midnight followed by a dancehall session which goes up to 2:00 pm.

Quite often by that time, Lester says she’s out of stock ending her night on another excellent financial note.

She commends the Councillor Hull and the team before stating how comfortable and safe she feels going home even at such hours.

When the competition was in its infancy, Mazie Browne was the only person selling at the venue. Those days she was smiling all the way the bank on Monday mornings.

Not anymore she said though as competition among vendors increase each season.

James Anderson (right) and Lindell Brown (centre) watching the final

“A mi alone was here for the first two seasons. But right now nutten naah gwaan fi mi. A better a did mi alone,” she said laughing. “One time at this time of the night $50,000 worth a goods would a sell off a’ready.”

But Brown hasn’t given up hope though, as she plans to be more creative next season in order to boost sales.

Support from the general public has been excellent. I met Lindell Brown and James Anderson – both close friends enjoying the irie vibes around the park.

Brown, alias Tall Up, told me that the competition has a personal connection with fans. “Is it more time prevent killing and violence from gwaan. Whenever football a play nuh violence nuh gwaan. If mi nuh come here mi cant sleep enuh mi general,” he said.

Anderson, who goes by the name Ruffyler, added: “A good something because every Sunday we can come out and enjoy wi self.”

With another season now behind them the organizers remain motivated and optimistic towards improving a product that is a game-changer for sure.

“It’s challenging you know, but we have to still motivate ourselves and deal with it. At the end of the day you will always have challenges in everything but we still manage to go through,” said Damion ‘Cameroon’ Murray, a member of the organizing committee.

Damion 'Cameroon' Murray (2nd right) and Cllr. Jennifer Hull (centre)

Going forward Hull had nothing but high praises for all involved and said they want to create a team to compete in the second tier football division in the parish.

“It is a great success for us and we want to applaud the community and persons from outside of the community to make this possible. We also have to be thankful to the police in Old Harbour for their support,” she said.

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Hammer & Nail defeated Trendsetters 2-1 to lift the Old Harbour Glades Corner League title in a contentious final at the community playfield last night.

Over 1,000 spectators turn up to witness the grand showdown of the popular night football competition with Hammer & Nail basking in glory under a cloudy Sunday night sky in the end.

Clinton Ashley had hit the bar twice in a feisty and fearlessly fought final, before making no mistake in the fifth minute of added time when he let fly a powerful left-footed volley to win it for his team at the death as well as securing the top purse prize of $80,000.

Davion Alves’ well placed side-footed finish from a David Lewis cross from the right flank just after the restart saw the game halted for more than five minutes as Trendsetters players protested in response to a call made by one of the officials prior to the goal.

As is the norm in many similar corner leagues, the game is only officiated by two referees with one occupying each half in most instances.

In this particular instance one of the officials made the call that the ball had gone outside, while his officiating colleague indicated for play to continue.

After much deliberation the game was restarted with Hammer & Nail, who was edging the contest in terms of chances created and possession, getting the go ahead goal.

Thirteen minutes later Trendsetters struck with Shangor Myton blasting home from a very tight acute angle. Again the game was interrupted, this time Hammer & Nail the aggrieved party arguing that the ball entered the goal via the side net.

Despite their vehement protestation, however, the goal was given.

With the scores leveled the tension went up a few notches as both sides aimed for the killer blow.

And it was Ashley, whose exquisite flick-on and then delicate lob were denied only by the post minutes into the second half that sent a dagger through the hearts of Trendsetters and their supporters, firing home an unstoppable shot with virtually the last kick of the match.

Trendsetters goalkeeper and captain Rojae Robinson gave credit to Hammer & Nail for “playing the better ball” but bemoaned his team’s lapse in concentration and poor finishing. Trendsetters collected $40,000 as runners-up.

Hammer & Nail team captain Jason Grant said: “We really hungry for it. But I must say thanks to my fellow teammates. We know it was going to be a tough game because we all know each other, so we expect this challenge.”

In the third-placed play-off, Highway defeated Mews 3-1 on penalties after both teams played to a 1-1 draw in addition to $25,000.

A $5,000 incentive and a trophy was awarded to individual awardees in the presentation ceremony which followed immediately afterwards. Among the recipients was Robinson who won the best goalkeeper award, while Andre McKnight of Mews earned himself the golden boot with a tournament high of seven goals. Young Strikers was named most disciplined team.

Meantime, Young Star won the Under-20 Division of the competition, overcoming Black Lion 4-3 on penalties following 0-0 deadlock.

As Champions Young Star bankrolled $20,000, while Black Lion walked away with $10,000. Love United received $5,000 for finishing third.

The competition, now in its 10th season, was once again sponsored by south west St Catherine Member of Parliament Everald Warmington and Cllr. Jennifer Hull.

Eight teams competed in the Under-20 competition, while the open tournament attracted 24 participating teams, thus showcasing a combined total of 480 talented players.

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It is the start of a new school year. But for the Old Harbour Primary School September 5, 2016 will forever be remembered as an historic Monday morning as for the first time in more than 40 years the institution will operate on a single shift.

This was made possible through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the Caribbean Development Bank at a cost of over $61 million. The school community also contributed $6.3 million through fundraising programmes.

The erection of a brand new two-storey block consisting of 10 classrooms was enough to take the school off the two-shift system which is a policy that the state has embarked upon in the last few years.

The more than 1,400 enrolled students, along with many parents, were present during a dedication ceremony that coincided with the school’s traditional morning devotion.

“As parents our children get more contact time with the teachers. But outside of that our students, especially our little girls, we were very concerned about them when they are going home in the evenings; and sometimes you’ll have early nights and the time will get dark on them being on the road. So the fact school will be dismissed at 2:30 pm they’ll have time to go home; so if a child is on the road at five o’clock it is time for us to be concerned. They’ll have more time to study at home and spend more time with their parents,” said Rosemarie Bailey, president of the school’s Parent Teachers Association (PTA) which was one of the signatories to the contract.

Acting Principal George Goode (right) engages school board chairman Bernard Richards (centre) and member of the community

The quadrant was packed with very little space remaining at both lower and upper corridors – all bearing the searing heat from the rising morning sun. But there were no complaints of its effects as this is a moment worth savouring.

Shift system was introduced in Jamaica in the 1970s to provide full education access to every Jamaican child. However, over time coupled with insufficient number of schools or classroom space, such a system is negatively impacting the quality of education, government research has concluded.

“I want to say firstly that school is about children. Students are the first priority for school; so with the children getting more contact time it will enhance their academic development. With the school coming on one shift it will enhance their social development because when we are on two shifts it is difficult to do extra-curricular activities,” George Goode, acting principal told Old Harbour News. “With the expansion of this new classroom block by JSIF then what you’ll find is that the students are more settled; we get a chance to develop the students not just academically and socially but spiritually and otherwise. So the project on a whole is better for the school.”

Goode, a former grade six teacher of 10 years before serving as vice principal in the last two years, said a lot of credit must go to its principal Lynette White, who was absent due to illness. He said it was the dream of White and others who went above and beyond themselves especially in the early stages.

The upper and lower section of the quadrant a packed despite the heat from the morning sun

Goode said: “I really want to commend the principal Mrs Lynette White because this is her dream. It is a vision that we all shared. I was really hoping that she would have been here but we understand that she’s not well.

“But I take this position (of acting principal) humbly and with much humility. So I am just carrying this baton for however long I’d be afforded with this chance.

“But it is all about the school development and I intend to give it my best shot and ensure that my teachers, the students and the entire school community are on course with one vision and mission and that is to uplift the school and students’ performance.”

School board chairman Bernard Richards also lauded the effort of White and the team but having seen the dream realized he’s now more hopeful of seeing an overall improvement in the school’s performances.

Inside one of the new classrooms

“We have to say thanks to all those who came on board,” Richards said. “The project was managed by JSIF as you would know, the engineers were Beckford and Beckford and the contractors were Ashtrom.

“We work together as a team. The workers were drawn from the community so we had less problems because the community is made of past students and individuals who live around the school.

“The project was a little late behind schedule but we are quite satisfied that the objective was achieved.

The occassion also saw past student Dr Donna Brown, who is well known physiotherapist,being recognised for her contribution to the school over the years.

Donna Brown (left) accepts her special award from Acting Vice Principal Annette McKoy

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Rising T20 player Rovman Powell has described his first call to the West Indies T20 squad as only the beginning.

Powell, 23, was named in a West Indies 15-man T20 squad to play Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in three International T20s starting September 23.

The West Indies will engage Pakistan in three One Day Internationals as well as a three-match Test Series during the overseas tour. Powell was not named in the ODI squad and is not expected to be included in the Test side to be named shortly.

Speaking to Old Harbour News after the West Indies Cricket Board released the names of the players for both T20 and ODI squads, Powell said: “I think it’s a big step in the right direction, so it’s just for me to continue to work hard and grab the opportunity with both hands and make sure that at the end of the day my name is still in the programme and in the team.

“The work has just started,” continued the former Old Harbour High Headley Cup player, who was one of the star performers in helping the Jamaica Tallawahs lift the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title last month.

The talented all-rounder finished the CPL scoring 228 runs at an average of 25.33, took two wickets and was one of the best outfield players in the tournament, claiming seven catches.

Having rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s best players of the game, Powell said it’s now a case of playing efficient and consistent cricket.

“You know international cricket is a whole different level of cricket but cricket still remains the same. So it’s just for me to continue doing the stuff that I’m doing right and continue to improve on my game,” said the Banister resident.

“To be honest there is no set targets,” he added. “You know when you set targets you set up yourself for disappointments. So it’s just for me to assess and do what’s best in every possible situation and I think that’s the best route to go about it.”

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There has been much talk about teaching entrepreneurship in our education system particularly at the primary and tertiary levels. Well, the Spring Village Training Institute (SVTI) here in St Catherine is doing just that by adding an entrepreneurship module to its core curriculum.

On Wednesday the benefits of this approach was there for all to see during the launch of the Spring Fresh honey bee products at the SVTI centre. The launch represented the conclusion of the SVTI’s bee keeping Level II course executed by a cohort of 25 students enrolled to the programme.

Guest speaker Mildred Crawford of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) said the business of bee farming is a viable entrepreneurial venture in Jamaica that can generate a per annum income in excess of $0.5 billion to the local economy.

“Over 12,000 persons rely on beekeeping for their livelihood,” said Crawford. “When an industry has the potential to generate $642.84 million from honey annually, at farm gate, it is time to evaluate and exploit the untapped opportunities.”

RELATED ARTICLE: The bees in business: Entrepreneurial venture in farming

From its resuscitated apiary consisting of 11 beehives or colonies the SVTI students have so far able to produce honey of course, and byproduct such as wax to make candle. Other byproduct such as soap, wine, skin cream, royal jelly and bee pollen will be added in short order SVTI executive director Randy Finnikin told Old Harbour News.

Some of the value added honey products that the SVTI intend to add to its production line

Not all the products on display were produce by the newly registered Spring Fresh Apiary – a subsidiary of the SVTI. But the intent of the institution is clear.

At the end of the course the students will be certified in apiculture empowering each to create startup ventures in beekeeping or provide technical advice when demand.

One of the students is Christopher Yates, a beekeeper himself. Though he had firsthand knowledge in apiculture his eyes were opened to new experiences.

“The course extrapolates a number of things. With regards to your health, we learn the first aid aspect and how to treat certain allergic reaction,” Yates told Old Harbour News while referring to the entrepreneurship aspect of the course as “the most important”.

“The take away was the business plan writing. It carried us through all aspect of business plan and the importance of having a business plan. With this course it teaches us how to manage the apiary properly and from that management strategy we will now be able to reap a lot more from what we have,” said Yates who is the owner of Bee Sweet Honey Product.

Christopher Yates says Beekeeping is far more fulfilling than any other farming activity

The course lasted for just under six months which was an exciting time for Joseph Johnson who is the main instructor for the SVTI bee programme. Johnson, a retired plant propagation specialist in the Ministry of Agriculture, said: “We had a new set of trainees who were excited about the programme. Everybody blend in quite well and it was a job well done. Beekeeping is fun. When you go into the apiary we use the standard procedure to make you be as safe as possible.”

He added: “The income can be very good if you follow through with what you have to do. You don’t have to have a large amount of land and you can house a colony of 50 which can give you very good returns.”

Despite its vast potential not many young people seem interested in beekeeping as an income generator. The primary reason for such high levels of disinterest in the business is ignorance and fear of being stung.

But with the right mindset and the desire to make yourself truly economically independent the possibilities are endless, said Carl Pommells, president of the St Catherine Bee Farmers Association.

“A lot of the people who are involved today got involve through our association and we are glad for that and I hope what they’ve learnt here will keep the beekeeping industry alive,” the parish president said. “Just like any other business you put in the capital. There is no immediate returns and it will take up to three years to start generate real profit.”

Carl Pommells, president of the St Catherine Bee Farmers Association

According to Pommells one bee box referred to as a colony cost between $15,000 to $20,000. With proper management that single colony can be expanded to four within a year. A farmer with four colonies is now able to produce enough to supply the market albeit in small quantities. This doesn’t mean, however, that the expansion of his colony has ceased, Pommells said. In fact each year the farmer can double his capacity, which means a 16-colony apiary is quite achievable within three years.

Apiculture is one of the better ventures in farming in Yates’ view.

“I have been farming for more than 20 years doing different areas of farming. Since three years ago I have entered beekeeping I’ve realized that beekeeping should have been the choice from day one. Beekeeping is far more fulfilling than any other farming activity I’ve been engaged. It doesn’t take up a lot of time and it’s very rewarding,” said Yates who has an apiary of 13 colonies.

With a membership of 25 bee farmers, Pommells added: “I have farmer in the association who are making shampoos for both human and pets; ointments, pollens and propolis… and that is just one farmer.”

Locally the demand for honey is extremely high and even in much higher demand on international markets. The demand of honey byproducts is even far greater.

A SVTI student applies smoke to a colony

“You can do all your byproducts,” said Johnson. “You can start with your main honey, you can collect propolis; you can rear queen bees. Then you can set up your little factory to do your value added stuff.”

Honey also forms a large part of the cosmetic industry, while as a natural sweetener is the preferred choice amongst people who have adopted healthy lifestyles practices.

Getting bee farmers certified was a critical step forward, said Hugh Smith acting chief plant protection officer in the apiculture unit, Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, as it ties into the overarching policy of the state.

Honey produce by the newly registered Spring Fresh Apiary - subsidiary of the SVTI

“We want to lift the standards of what is happening in the field; and as a result this programme fits in quite well with lifting that standard. We feel that certification will increase the benefit to the industry, increase production, increase efficiency. It’s not only a paper but it’s what happen within the programme that allows the beekeeper to lift himself. It also increases the marketability because there’s a large export market for some of these products, especially the Canadian market,” said Smith.

Vivian Brown, director general, in the ministry says Wednesday’s launch is one example of exploiting the synergies between agriculture and the commerce and industry sectors to promote economic growth and job creation.

“If agriculture must go forward and viable in this country one of the things we must do is to ensure we get younger persons involve in agriculture and agro business. The ministry has a particular interest and responsibility to expand the training and the orientation to young persons that agriculture is a business and not merely a hobby or a hustling,” said Brown.

Remember the name LeAnn Lewis? Two years ago Old Harbour News highlighted her story after the American International School of Kingston (AISK) offered her a $5 million three-year scholarship borne out of a controversy between Lewis and her former high school.

Then only 15 years old Lewis, the gifted teen who hails from Old Harbour Bay, Jamaica, had already attained passes in seven Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) subjects, including Math and English which she amazingly obtained at age 13.

Lewis was attending Glenmuir High School – one of the top performing secondary institutions in Jamaica. But based on school rules she was denied graduating because it’s mandatory for students to sit CSEC Math and English in Fifth Form.

Related article: AISK offers former Glenmuir High academe LeAnn Lewis 3-year scholarship

Fast forward to 2016 and Lewis is on her way to Howard University in the United States of America, having achieved the U.S. Gold and Silver Presidential Awards for academic excellence.

For her outstanding achievement, Lewis, now 17 years old, received a double citation from U.S. President Barack Obama congratulating her as well as a citation from the United States Department of Education in recognition of her success.

LeAnn’s amazing accomplishment is not a surprise to those close to her. She has graduated from the AISK with an International Baccalaureate Diploma from England.

And while at the AISK, she was nominated 2015 Envision Distinguished Alumni for Jamaica and was inducted into the National Honour Society.

“I must say thanks to the Almighty God,” stated Lewis who will be majoring in computer science at the Washington DC-based University. “Thanks to my mentors at AISK: Ms. Henriques, Ms. Brownie, Ms. Picasso, Ms. Nicole Campbell, my principal Ms. Canobie and finally my Head of School, Ms Shirley Davis, so welcoming with that infectious smile.

“A big thank you to the Jamaica Energy Partners C.E.O. Mr. McKenzie, Ms Odette Reynolds and Ms. Melissa Newman.

“Another journey has just begun.”

“She really works hard,” added LeAnn’s mother Shirley Lewis. “You know, coming from a little community in Old Harbour Bay, makes us feel even prouder.”

The elder Lewis who operates a home school programme for kids in Old Harbour Bay further added: “I’m trying to groom some more here through my school.”

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