Vishwanath Ghati Madhumakhi Palan Swayatt Sahkarita is the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of the beekeeping cluster to be formed in the Bhilangana block of district Tehri Garhwal, Uttarakhand.The main purpose behind the foundation of this co-operative society is to promote sustainable agriculture production and enhance biodiversity, income and livelihoods of local farmers through beekeeping with indigenous bee like Apis cerana indica that is known to be an excellent pollinator. The co-operative society is registered under Uttarakhand Co-operative Societies Act 2003.
District Tehri Garhwal has a rich diversity of flowering plants which are good sources of nectar and pollen for bees. With 59 % of its geographical area covered with rich forests, presence of indigenous species of bees i.e. Apis cerana indica and agriculture being the main occupation of its inhabitants, Tehri Garhwal is favorable for beekeeping.
Despite all the resources and the numerous benefits and technological advancements in apiculture sector, beekeeping in the region has been a household level activity and has not developed into a major (or commercial) activity. Local farmers in the region still uses traditional wall hives over modern beehives despite low produce and high mortality of broods. These traditional wall hives for the honeybees are like a window frame with various small round openings. They are locally known as Khadra or Jalota. Inside the house, the open portion of the frame is kept covered with a fine white muslin cloth. Honey is extracted by uncovering the cloth and cutting some of the portions from the combs, making sure that enough honey is kept for the bee colony to sustain itself. The major problem with this traditional method of collecting honey is that it destroys the hives. The practice is unsustainable especially in conjunction with the drop in the honeybee population.
Sadly, the number of traditional wall hives and colonies are also decreasing with parallel to increasing modern cemented houses resulting in reduced crop yields due to less pollination. Bees are exceptionally important for their capacity to pollinate. They are vital to the pollination of fruits, vegetables and flowers – both wild and cultivated. The 100 crop species that provide 90 % of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.
Thus, conservation of bee habitat is of huge importance for improving crop production and enhance biodiversity, income and livelihoods of small and marginal farmers. Traditional beekeepers (here usually farmers) in the region have to adopt modern beekeeping practices, especially in areas like bee management, better extraction, honey storage and quality control.
This has led the way for establishment of Vishwanath Ghati Madhumakhi Palan Swayatt Sahkarita as better economic returns to the extraordinary skills and hard work of local farmers is only possible by an organized effort by all involved in beekeeping and an organized environment was only possible on a cooperative basis.
Through the beekeeping cluster, the society seeks to:
- increase the income and livelihoods of small and marginal farmers;
- support rural development and promote small village industry;
- increase the agricultural productivity through pollination support by bees;
- generate additional livelihoods related to beekeeping like carpentry for bee box manufacturing, making of swarm bags or bee veils, renting out bee boxes to provide pollination service to other farmers etc.;
- empower women as a good percentage of our farmers are women;
- preserve the ecological balance and biodiversity in nature.
Against a backdrop of decreasing biodiversity and attempts to ensure a livelihood for rural communities, beekeeping is an ideal eco-friendly and economically viable enterprise. This will not only lead to an alternative means of livelihood, honey production, but also conserve the native bee species of the Uttarakhand hills, Apis cerana indica, thereby helping crop production as well.
Sponsor a Beekeeper
As the co-operative society is established, the next step is to form a beekeeping cluster so that local farmers can take their traditional practice of beekeeping on a commercial scale. Formation of beekeeping cluster will greatly boost the economy of local farmers with a notable increase in production of honey in the district.
Modern beekeeping is in its infancy in the region and there is no existing cluster for beekeeping. Hence, local farmers are very much willing to use modern beehives for better management of colonies and learning modern beekeeping technologies for increased production of natural Himalayan honey.
There are more than 300 farmers from nearly 50 villages in Bhilangana block of district Tehri Garhwal who are eager to enroll themselves to form a beekeeping cluster and further enhance their livelihood through commercial beekeeping. Livelihood will also be increased through indirect employment like carpentry work for making bee boxes and renting of bee colonies.
As per the society’s by laws, a farmer can enroll himself as a member by paying membership fee for registration. A member has to pay Rs. 1,000 as membership fee.
Himalaya Tree is associated with the co-operative society as an assistance partner and need your help to raise funds to support the farmers in overcoming their social and economic challenges through a business of sustainable honey production. We are looking for like-minded people who truly believes in the cause of preservation of nature and understand their duty towards our future generation.
Once you sponsor a farmer, donated funds will be utilized for their capacity building, to provide them the necessary equipment essential for beekeeping and technical handholding support.
For making our efforts successful, we are heavily dependent on the strength and support of our people i.e. YOU. We believe in the collaborative atmosphere and are absolutely convinced that we all can make a difference together. Your little act of kindness by supporting a farmer will forever be cherished by them, the bees and our ecosystem.
Considering the no. of farmers, we aimed at raising Rs. 3,00,000. We are hopeful that we can count on you and help is on the way. So can you please join us in this effort of sponsoring the farmers? You can do a bank transfer to the below mentioned account details;
Make a difference, share the appeal and get your friends, family and acquaintances to sponsor the farmers. Thank you so much for your kind consideration. We welcome you to provide your thoughts, suggestions or questions. You can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.