By Rusen Kumar
BHARATPUR: Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation (Lupin Foundation) aiming to create employment opportunities for 15,000 local youth and farmers in the Bharatpur district, Rajasthan through beekeeping. Bharatpur has emerged as a major honey producing region in the country, accounting for 1785 tonnes of honey last year itself.
Sitaram Gupta, Executive Director, Lupin Foundation says, “Beekeeping has emerged as a viable job option for local farmers and youth of Bharatpur, Rajasthan and therefore Foundation intends to provide employment to at least 15,000 youths and farmers in Bharatpur district.”
The total honey production from District of Bharatpur, Rajasthan was 28.0 metric tonnes in 1997-98. Rajasthan, with 33 districts, now produces 4100 tonnes of honey, out of which, 1785 tonnes is produced annually in Bharatpur district itself.
Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation (Lupin Foundation), an independent entity of Lupin Limited, has been working for past three decades on the socio-economic progress of the region.
Sita Ram Gupta says, “Beekeeping, which was unheard of in the eastern part of Rajasthan until 1992, now has a multiplier effect on economic upliftment of the villagers.”
“Based on natural resources and growth of mustards as a cash crop in the region, we explored the possibility and planned for the technology transfer and promotion of beekeeping here in Bharatpur. The survey and exploring the feasibility began in the year 1990-91 with the help of scientists of Khadi Industries and Training Centre of Pune.”, he said.
Agriculture has always been and continues to be the main source of livelihood for majority of the population. Its growth is essential for self-reliance, ensuring food and nutritional security, poverty alleviation and improving quality of life.
Lupin Foundation has now its own Trade Mark of Honey called MADHVI HONEY which has been registered in January 2008. A Shahad Cluster Vikas Sansthan with office in Bharatpur has been established for the sale of honey and to provide beekeeping equipment at subsidized rates.
“180 Beekeepers have been registered as members of National Bee Board. We have encouraged two young entrepreneurs to establish Honey Processing Plants in Bharatpur district to facilitate marketing.”, added Sitaram Gupta.
Inspired by Bharatpur, beekeepers of neighbouring states also migrate to Bharatpur to setup bee colonies. Beekeeping has proved to be one such agro-based economic activity which fulfils the philosophy of Gandhiji’s model of rural economic development. A significant impact was that family members ceased to partition the land they own signalling a very strong sign of social bonding.
To make agriculture rewarding, it needs diversification and value addition along with technological infusion. Lupin is actively pursuing diversification through the promotion of various clusters of vegetable, horticulture, floriculture, soil enrichment through organic manure, value addition through food processing. Lupin has been a pioneer in introducing beekeeping as the singular, major activity that provides a source of livelihood for the landless, marginal farmers and the unemployed rural youth.
“This has resulted in farmers evincing keen interest in the farming sector. Lupin HWRF always believes that agriculture is the living heritage for the country and thus has to remain on centre stage in ours nation’s thinking and making it rewarding.” he said.
Lupin HWRF, implements Lupin CSR activities all over India, set up in the year 1988 with the objective of providing an alternative model of rural development in the country, which is sustainable, replicable and ever evolving.
Lupin conducted surveys, which indicated good possibilities of beekeeping. During year 1992-93, two private entrepreneurs of village Aghapur of Sewar block (Bharatpur) and one employee of the Lupin HWRF were sent to Hissar Agriculture University for seven days practical training of beekeeping.
These two persons were given 20 Boxes of bee colonies and stationed at village Aghapur in the close vicinity of Keoladeo National Park (KNP). The experiment failed due to an attack of wild bees of KNP over the domesticated bees.
The boxes were shifted to other areas. The renewed efforts of the organization and frequent consultations with experts progressed the activity in right direction. In the subsequent year 1996-97, the beekeepers of Saharanpur brought their boxes during mustard crop to Bharatpur.
An interaction with these Beekeepers turned to a milestone and led the training of 20 rural people of Bharatpur at Saharanpur with the assistance of district administration and Horticulture Department of Bharatpur. Since then, Beekeeping has become a massive programme in the district, growing at a very fast pace and providing employment to unemployed youth, landless labourers, small and marginal farmers by empowering them on an equity basis to upgrade their economic status.
Experimenting constantly, documenting and developing scientific and entrepreneurship skills has been a hallmark of Lupin HWRF’s efforts towards boosting beekeeping activity in the district. This was achieved by training and exposure visits, finance and microfinance – SIDBI and Marketing.
Major objectives of Lupin HWRF in the field of beekeeping are to organize and promote beekeeping, honey and other bee products in the Rajasthan state, promote and regulate domestic and export market of honey and other allied products, assist beekeepers in raising their apiaries, undertake programme and project for promotion of beekeeping and to increase productivity, promote remunerative return to beekeepers, assist or encourage scientific and technical beekeeping in the state and develop, promote honey market and to encourage increase in consumption of honey.
The beekeepers render services to the society since the bees help in increasing crop productivity by way of pollination of crops. It reduces the usages of fertilizers and water. It is the best little friend of a farmer and the rural poor. Usage of honey bees augments the yield of oilseeds, pulses, fruits, vegetable, fodder seeds and fibre crop seeds.
“It is an important agri-input. Honey bees and beekeeping deserve to be recognized as factor of organic farm production technology.”, Sitaram Gupta said.
The production of honey in India is estimated at 80,000 tonnes. The production can further be increased many folds by developing and providing advanced bee management technology. The domestic as well as global market requirements are very high. However, for the rural poor, beekeeping activity requires very simple tools and technology, which can be fabricated locally with little training input. A Low Investment – High Income Proposition that also fits in appropriately with the principle and practice of optimal and balanced use of natural resources. It is a win-win situation for the farmers and the environment.
Honey production in the district can be increased if all the floral resources for honey production are leveraged. There is a huge scope to diversify produce and integrate it with farming. It has the potential of adding new dimensions to the rural economy.
The success of the beekeeping in the district has transformed into a revolution that the Chief Minister, Govt. of Rajasthan announced Honey Cluster Development Project and nominated Lupin HWRF to expand and organize this activity in the Eastern districts of Rajasthan State and Hadauti region of the state (Kota Division):
- Mass Awareness
- Providing consultancy services
- Training and exposure visit to potential beekeepers to various Apiaries.
- Identifying beekeepers for becoming members of National Bee Board.
- Participation in various fair and melas at state and national level.
- Promotion of LHWRF Sponsored Madhvi Honey Brand.
Since Bharatpur is bordered by the state of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, this activity is being replicated in a big way and is fast expanding to other areas thus proving to be an opening for new job opportunities for the unemployed youth of the rural areas.
(Rusen Kumar recently visited Bharatpur under his CSR Yatra)