By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Aug 13: Around 250 families of Assamese, Singphou and Khamti community at nine villages in Changlang and msai districts, Aruchal Pradesh are gearing up for an altertive earning by beekeeping. Backed by Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) and OIL they are under training to rear bees and to market the honey obtained from varying flowering plants available in Northeast.
Vijay O Mahajan, owner of Shiv Sagar Madh Udyog, is currently in the city to tell beekeepers about the benefits of honey. Shiv Sagar Madh Udyog in Pune is of supplier of honey, bee boxes and honey bee wax and equipments.
"Honey available in Northeast is unique and varying and it has huge demand. Honey from this region is wild in ture and is known for its tural sweetness. A large variety of flowering plants is available in this region. Taste of honey of the Northeast differs from plant to plant. Honey obtained from Lichi flowers is the sweetest. Honey available in the Northeast is obtained from litchi, Mango, eucalyptus, mustard, coconut, drumstick, jamun, orange etc. Honey obtained from amlokhi and hilikha is bitter in taste and it cures breathing problem. Jamun honey cures diabetes. The best honey's sweetness dissolves after staying for 10-15 seconds in mouth," Mahajan said.
Mahajan, accompanied by Ripun Ravi Das of Dibrugarh, is also teaching the villagers about the technique of making bee boxes. "Bamboos are abundant in the Northeast. Two boxes can be made from a single bamboo. I showed these tribal people of Northeast ways of making bee boxes out of bamboo. The box is similar to the wooden box made in other parts of the country. Rather, boxes made of bamboo are good for bees' health," Mahajan said.
"The box comes with a stand. The base of the box has a queen gate. Through this gate the queen bee enters and makes exit of the box. A mother chamber is placed on top of the base. The chamber has eight frames. Here the queen bee lays eggs and she stores honey for feeding of her babies. A net is placed on top of the mother chamber so that the queen bee cannot escape to the honey chamber placed on top of the net. Bees would produce honey and it gets accumulated in the honey chamber which has eight chambers. The honey chamber is covered by a lid. A queen bee lays 1,000 eggs each time. The eggs hatch in October. About 250 gram honey is accumulated per chamber. Around 2 kg honey is obtained per box. Bees are trapped sometimes and if the boxes are kept in the bee habitats in the forests they take shelter in the boxes. As population increase in the box the queen bee finds another bee and shift to another box. It's all science. I distributed boxes to 10,000 tribal people to help them produce honey," Mahajan smiled, explaining the mechanism of the box. "Moreover, honey made in the Northeast has high moisture level which should be processed using heat. Good honey can be obtained in 18-20 per cent moisture in the air.
"A good quality bee box can be made from dry Bholuka bamboo. Boxes made from jati bah sometimes suffer from cracks," Das said.
"One can earn around Rs 150 per kg of honey. One will be beneficial if he can sell it in retail. Honey obtained from Litchi shoots up to Rs 600 per kilo. In one season one can earn Rs 4,000 per box in one year. There is already a market available. The demand for honey is 20 lakh metric tonnes in India. It is currently not meeting its demand. Our Udyog is willing to buy honey from these families," he added.
"I've been beekeeping since April. I learned the way bees are reared and the techniques of making the bee boxes," Chou Pandicha Thaman of Changlang district said.
The project is sponsored by OIL under its CSR initiatives and IIE is implementing it in the rural areas. IIE is also holding talks for common facility-cum-business infrastructure centre which would include a honey processing unit in Changlang district.
"Dubar is ready to purchase honey produced in a bulk amount. TRIFED, responsible for marketing of tribal products and train tribal people to be self-sustained would market honey produced in the Northeast. After a survey in the tribal areas of Changlang and msai districts, people of the districts were made aware of this project by IIE. Those people were also taken to Jorhat University and Jorhat bee production centre for counseling," Project Coorditor, LOKO Mash Adhikary said.