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Sniff out the coffee grounds… and the bees

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The forgotten coffee plantations of St Helena could be brought back to life to build on the island’s reputation for producing one of the best brews in the world.

The draft agriculture blueprint for the island also recommends plotting all of its beehives on a map, to find room for more honey producers.

But the paper reports “little interest in piloting new products such as culinary herbs and mushrooms”, despite expected demand from tourist operators such as Shelco, which has proposed growing its own food for guests.

The Growing Forward paper proposes “a moderate increase in specialist production” for both local and international markets.

St Helena coffee has been acclaimed as one of the finest in the world – and the most expensive – since David Henry began clearing abandoned estates around Sandy Bay in the 1990s. His business collapsed, but an outside company has carried on production, working with Solomon’s on the island.

The paper sees scope for “realistic expansion” of coffee plantations.

A first step must be to identify land suitable for growing coffee, and ways to secure it, as well as finding ways to bring neglected plantations back into use – perhaps with funding or other incentives for a grower.

The paper also calls for a map to be made, showing all the bee hives on the island, so that under-used areas show up.

Short-term incentives could be offered to encourage people to take up apiculuture – with advice on the best plants to introduce for bees.

SEE ALSO: Coffee – how a bag of beans made St Helena a world-beater



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