Making a beeline for honey: Nagaland’s sweet story
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Dec. 5: Apiculture can be a rewarding hobby; fascinating as well as a good source of income for the farmers though laymen may see bees as ferocious wild insects that produce only honey for human consumption, said Longkhanba Yimchunger, a beekeeper from Tuensang district, at the first Nagaland Honey Bee Day held on Dec. 5 at Multi Utility Centre 6th mile in Dimapur.
The Nagaland Bee Keeping Mission (NBHM), an independent apiculture undertaking and first in the country, finally received sweet honey success after more than a decade of toil but observing Nagaland Honey Bee Day on Wednesday, the first of its kind in the country.
Yimchunger, who received Best Beekeeper award at the event and also serves as the chairman of Village Bee Keeping Committee (VBKC), shared his success story, saying that his misconception on bees as ferocious insect changed after receiving training on beekeeping conducted by NBHM; and since became a strong propagator of the wonders of bees in his village as well as to his tribesmen.
He said that he could earn INR 50,000 per month through sales of honey from his 60 bee colonies, which helps in supporting his two college-going children. He also asserted that beekeeping increases productivity of agricultural and horticultural crops besides being a blessing during financial difficulties.
Chief patron of the event, Minister for Planning, co-ordination and land revenue Neiba Khronu described honey market as a market which has the potential to enter the world market taking into consideration the rich biodiversity of Nagaland. Saying that quality is important, he implored upon the government of India to ‘impose what the state can do through extra attention and not on what the state cannot do.’
“From today onwards, prepare yourself to go forward with the mission and be called as land of honey although we do not have adequate farmers,” Khronu told NBHM and beekeepers.
The PDA government is committed to construct roads and generate power even if the state does not have budget as the government’s concentration is on sustainable development goals as per its manifesto, affirmed the legislator. He added the government has submitted a proposal of INR 10 cr. to the North East Council for NBHM.
Horticulture advisor Mhathung Yanthan said that the Honey Bee Day acknowledges the ‘symbiotic relationship’ between bees and human beings, which was important, and admitted that he still continues to be an ambassador of beekeeping since the time he took up the responsibility as the first team leader of the mission in 2007.
Recounting the genesis of NBHM, Yanthan said the mission went through a period of uncertainty, unpredictable challenges, learning and unlearning but tremendous awareness on the importance of honeybees has resulted in the increase of the farming in the state.
The legislator pointed out that it was difficult to convince Naga people because of the inherent subsidy culture. “The mission was rebuked and blamed for not doing magic, but today, through the initiative of the mission, the state has become one of the forerunners in beekeeping enterprises,” said Yanthan.
Emphasising on the relationship between bees and agriculture/horticulture, Yanthan said crops need pollination and without honeybees, pollinating the crop will be incomplete. He added that other states look up to Nagaland as a leader in beekeeping today because of the NBHM’s understanding on bees with trials and errors since its conception.
Encouraging the NBHM to keep up the pace with technology and continue to perform, Yanthan said the mission has to gear up, shift gear and look forward to take the beekeeping sector to a higher level. He also advised the mission to coordinate with the agri-allied departments, particularly the horticulture department.
The legislator affirmed that the PDA government led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio is committed to the farmers and that its manifesto on common minimum programme agriculture productivity is placed at a high level priority. He added that the government’s vision of doubling income and agricultural products in the state would not be complete without honey bee mission.