Big buzz as Naga farmers mine sweet gold from honey and bees
World Honeybee Day
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, May 21 : Apiculture—the practice of keeping bees as well as the manufacturing of honey and beeswax—just might turn out to be a rich mine that would provide Nagaland with a more sustainable and less environmentally destructive economic alternative. For instance, a recent event about beekeeping highlighted the income of “bee farmers” who earned income in six figures.
The Nagaland Beekeeping and Honey Mission (NBHM) observed World Honeybee Day on from May 19 to the 22nd with the main programme being held on May 21 in Dimapur. The keynote speaker of the programme was NBHM’s secretary and team leader, Mhabemo Yanthan.
Emphasising on the event’s theme ‘save the bees,’ Yanthan spoke about the role of bees and apiculture in the natural network. ‘Honeybees helped in conserving the fragile bio-diversity, maintains eco-friendly livelihood, and provide health benefits,’ he said. He remarked that unlike jhum cultivation, which requires acres of forest to be felled, beekeeping eliminates deforestation as it requires trees for the insect to survive on.
Yanthan suggested that Nagas rear bees in place of agricultural farming for livelihood. He spoke about a beekeeper from Chozubasa village in Phek who reportedly generated an income of INR 18,90,000 this year. The officer felt that people should go beyond cultivation, and take a more application approach. He added that beekeeping would be able to generate employment for the youth.
The director of Horticulture, Dr. Elithung Lotha, also spoke about the importance of bees’ contribution in plants. He said that the pollination of plants was mostly by bees; the receptive stage of the process takes place for just a few hours in the morning. If farmers are ignorant about this practice, they might miss the pollination process which in turn will bring bad yield, he observed.
Beekeepers from various villages spoke about their experience in apiculture. A member of the Chozubasa village beekeeping committee, Zacüpra-o, spoke at the event. He was the beekeeper about whom Yanthan spoke about. Zacüpra-o said, ‘beekeeping is a traditional method that the villagers rear for the sake of rearing. It was never taken as a serious business until the intervention of the NBHM.’ He added that being a beekeeper helped him to send his children to school and support his family well enough.
Likewise, a member of the Yakor village beekeeping committee, Longkhangba, said he was able to generate an income of INR 1,85,700. Before, he remarked, nobody knew how to tend bees in the village, but soon enough it became one of the good avenues in which people are investing.
Joint director of Indian Council of Agriculture Research Dr. Rajkhowa observed that the Northeast region lacked in agricultural productivity despite being endowed with fertile land. He was of the view that the needed approach at this juncture was to increase productivity which he said was possible through intensive farming. Skill development and participation of different stakeholders are required as there is no marketable surplus, he added.
The NBHM’s team member, Chubanungla Shilu, said that the department used to impart training to agriculture students across the country since 2007. They have trained about 200 students in apiculture and beekeeping, the gathering was informed.