LITTLE is known about honey farming in the coastal towns of Papua New Guinea but 16 inmates and three prison officers at Beon jail outside Madang have made a sweet turn around.
They have become the first in the province to learn about beekeeping and honey production.
The training means that Madang may soon have its trademark honey sold at stores in the country like the household name Highlands Honey.
Last week, the inmates and the officers graduated with certificates in beekeeping, honey production byproducts such as wax, soap and candles, among others.
The training was part of the jail’s rehabilitation programme and was initiated and wholly-funded by Fr Dons Onyeke, a Catholic priest and Divine Word University academic who is also the chaplain of the jail.
Fr Dons, after learning of the beekeeping and honey production business in Eastern Highlands, arranged for a team from Goroka-based Honey Farmers’ Association to come to Madang and conduct the training.
Guest speaker and provincial agriculture and livestock adviser Godfried Savi told participants and other guest that his division now realised that honey farming “is the most-convenient agricultural business that requires less labor and costs, and which can be accessible by the ordinary villagers”
He said that he would be engaging a bee team from Eastern Highlands to train other interested people in Madang about beekeeping and honey production.
Beekeeping and honey production are widespread in Eastern Highlands and do not need sophisticated and expensive equipment.
Bees also play an important role in the environment through pollination of flowers, citrus trees and other plants.