Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 20th 2014 Contents A10
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, May 20, 2014
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As Government moves to allow the
importation of honey into T&T,
reports have surfaced that a shipment
of honey brought in illegally by a busi-
ness clique was sent back to Grenada
recently by the Customs and Excise
The shipment came to the attention
of the Beekeepers Association of T&T
and the Professional Beekeepers Asso-
ciation (PBA), whose members dis-
cussed the illegal import with Inspector
of Apiaries, Ian Fletcher, at an April 30
meeting in Curepe.
On Friday, Fletcher, Food Production
Minister Devant Maharaj and Trade
Minister Vasant Bharath denied knowl-
edge of the shipment.
However, two beekeepers who
attended the meeting, Sean Carrera
and president of the PBA, Chunilal
Roopnarine, insisted that the shipment
was discussed and concerns expressed
Carrera said beekeepers later discov-
ered that a business group had brought
in the shipment, which was picked up
by Customs and Excise Division officers
and sent back to Grenada because it
contravened the country s Beekeeping
and Bee Products Act that prohibits
He said over the past year adulterated
honey has been smuggled into the
country and sold.
While they have no problem with
competition, Carrera said, imported
honey brings with it pests and diseases
that can decimate Trinidad and Toba-
go s local bee population, adversely
affect crop production, and cause health
"Honey must be tested before it
enters a country to ensure it is safe,
but this is not done due to the illegal
operations," Carrera said.
Smuggled honey putting
squeeze on beekeepers
Beekeepers examine one of their hives in Diego Martin earlier this month.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Samples of honey that were on sale in the market
yesterday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
need to become
Grenada has been
bringing up the
honey issue on a
regular basis at
and "it is becoming
that the livelihood of
the country's 700
Maharaj said, local
have to become
Roopnarine: Businessmen involved
Carrera said Government has moved to
construct a laboratory in Couva for the testing of
imported honey, while Cabinet has appointed an
inter-ministerial committee to amend the bee Act.
"It's no secret that honey smuggling is being
driven by money. It's a lucrative business, one that
can make anyone a millionaire overnight," PBA
president Roopnarine said.
"We are hearing big businessmen are involved in
the importation of the honey," Roopnarine said.
Roopnarine showed a 16-ounce bottle of impure
honey from China that was sold locally for $10.
Beekeepers have spotted honey from China,
Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Guyana
on the local market.
"We want to believe that the honey is smuggled
through the back door or our ports of entry, similar
to the drugs and guns trade," Roopnarine said.
A 750-ml bottle of local honey is sold for
between $180 and $225.
Roopnarine said he knows one local beekeeper
who sold his label, bearing his apiary number, to
someone who has been importing honey.
"That gives the importer free rein to sell off the
foreign honey as locally produced without being
caught," he said.
Bharath: Contraband honey
should be taken off the shelves
On Friday, Bharath said once the
laboratory is completed, the
Government will take legislation
to Parliament to change the Act.
"Once that is done, then on a
phased basis we will allow
imported honey to come in," he
Maharaj said that the laboratory
would be completed by
Bharath said Grenada has been
lobbying for years to gain entry to
T&T's market, whereas local
beekeepers have been protective
of their apiaries.
"I think what has precipitated
that matter is the fact that honey
in the country is extremely
expensive in comparison to the
other Caribbean islands.
But at the same time, the
balance on that is that we have to
put the proper safeguards in place
to ensure that our local bee
population is not affected by
imported diseases," Bharath said.
Roopnarine, however, disagreed
with Bharath, stating that
Grenada had only a few
beekeepers and could barely
supply itself with honey, far less
export to other countries.
Roopnarine suspects the honey
is being sourced from China and
Brazil and passes through Grenada
as a transshipment point.
Asked about the contraband
honey, Bharath said that the
matter rests with the Chemistry,
Food and Drug Division, which falls
under the Ministry of Health.
"They should be doing their
work. They should know that
honey is not allowed into the
country and they should be going
to the supermarkets to take them
off the shelves," he said
Though there have been
meetings with the division over
the matter, Bharath said, the pace
at which the division operates
"really is almost prehistoric."
Told that some big players were
behind the importation of the
honey, Bharath said he was not
aware of that.
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