The Department of Entomology and Wildlife of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), School of Biological Sciences, has established an International Stingless Bee Centre at Abrafo for Universities across the world to undertake research and training into the activities of stingless bees and conservation.
The Centre, the first of its kind in the West African Sub-Region, is expected to serve as an environmental education centre. The Centre currently has employed about 20 people in the Abrafo community, its catchment area, near the Kakum National Park.
At a brief ceremony on Tuesday, for its official opening, the Director of the Centre, Dr Peter Kwapong, said it would soon be developed into an industry to produce different medicinal hive products such as honey, propolis and pollen as well as artifacts, crafts and jewellery.
He said the Centre would soon be developed into an eco-tourism site to receive people around the globe for research and training and to generate funds for its sustainability while environmental education would also be carried out for the youth in particular to whip up their interest in preserving the environment.
At the Moment, the Centre rears stingless bees for biodiversity conservation and had trained 150 rural farmers – bee keepers and agric extension officers on how stingless bees, which are effective pollinators, could be used to facilitate increased food production in the country.
He noted that when well harnessed, the much talked about food security in the country would be achieved within a short time and encouraged farmers, researchers and extension officers to avail themselves at the Centre for training to enhance food production.
Dr Kwapong mentioned Brazil, Australia and Central America as areas where stingless bee was a serious business that had not only increased job creation but also generated wealth for people and called on Ghanaians to venture into it.
Reverend Professor Emmanuel Adow Obeng, the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the UCC, described the establishment of the Centre as a major plus for the UCC and said its objective of promoting stingless bee keeping for research and training was quite laudable.
He pointed out that universities were expected to establish partnership with communities in their catchments to engage in productive activities to promote growth and applauded the UCC for that initiative.
Dr Benony Kortatsi, Director of Science, Technology and Innovation at the Ministry of Environment, who cut the tape to open the Centre, in a brief remark, said stingless bees were of economic importance in food and medicinal production for mankind’s survival and livelihood.
He said the Centre would enable researchers as well as farmers to learn more about its rearing and how to conserve the environment in a sustainable manner.
Professor Fred Addai of the School of Medical Sciences at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital underscored the importance of research in the development of the society and reiterated calls on universities not to remain “ivory towers” but to be of immense benefit to their communities.
He said they should make available their research findings and not to keep them on shelves, adding that “nobody can take what you have been able to produce yourself from you”.
Professor Victor Gadzekpo, President of the Central University, who presided, said as pollination agents, bees are indispensable in the reproduction of plants species and called for support from individuals and organizations to support the Centre’s research efforts.