In order to boost beekeeping in the southern states of India and to incorporate honeybees as agricultural input to enhance crop productivity through pollination, National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management, known as MANAGE in association with National Bee Board (NBB) organised a one-day workshop at its campus in Hyderabad.
Speaking at the workshop ‘Promotion of Bee-Keeping Sector in Southern Region’, Dr. P. Chandra Shekara, Director General, MANAGE, in his welcome address highlighted the importance of honeybees and beekeeping in doubling the farmers’ income and ensuring sustainable agricultural practices. He felt there was a great need to provide extension services and build capacities of farmers, agripreneurs and agri startups on beekeeping, processing technologies and marketing to promote the sector.
Addressing the gathering, Dr. Abhilaksh Likhi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India stressed the need to treat beekeeping and honeybee as an input in agriculture to boost crop productivity through pollination and ensure sustainable agriculture in the country. Considering the importance of beekeeping and honeybees, ICAR institutions, state agricultural universities (SAUs) and departments of agriculture and horticulture in states and UTs need to work together in a mission mode. He desired that MANAGE may create a database of agri start-ups and agripreneurs in beekeeping sector and undertake a study on potentials of beeswax to know the forward and backward linkages for funding under beekeeping and honey mission.
He highlighted the MadhuKranti portal established by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoAFW) to support small and marginal farmers and other stakeholders across the value chain. He said that there was a need to promote farmer producer organisations (FPOs), societies and cooperatives to accelerate Beekeeping and Honey Mission in the country. Dr. Likhi informed that 9,000 MT honey was being produced from the southern region and to promote the activities further, 14 districts in the region have been identified to develop infrastructure to improve value chain activities in honeybee and beekeeping sector. He stressed the need for training and capacity building on scientific beekeeping, intensive technical training, improving skills and use of blockchain technologies and QR code through state agricultural universities, MANAGE and regional cooperative institutions in next year.
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He released honey and beeswax-based products manufactured by honey-based agri startups promoted by MANAGE under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana – Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied Sectors Rejuvenation (RKVY- RAFTAAR) project of Government of India. The CEOs of these agri startups shared their experiences in organic comb honey, honey production during the non-flowering period, natural preservation techniques, processing, packing, marketing, smart beehive monitoring system, use of blockchain and QR based technology, Internet of Things (IoT) controlled bee box system for app-based management. They desired that awareness, training and opportunities needed to be provided to promote beekeeping and honeybee in the country.
Dr. SK Malhotra, Agriculture & Horticulture Commissioner, GoI gave an overview of National Beekeeping and Honey Mission (NBHM) and urged agricultural research, agricultural universities, state governments, agripreneurs and farmers to make concerted efforts to implement the Beekeeping and Honey Mission in the country. He highlighted the pollination services in agriculture. He felt the role of partners and value-addition, processing technologies and training are very important in taking forward the mission in the country.
During his speech, it was informed that considering the importance of beekeeping and honeybees in enhancing crop productivity through pollination support and also in compliance with the recommendation of the high-level Beekeeping Development Committee (BDC), it has been decided to treat beekeeping and honeybees as an input in agriculture. This will boost agricultural production through pollination enhancement in crops in a sustainable manner in the country. The necessary directions have been issued to ICAR research institutes, central and state agricultural universities (CAUs/ SAUs)/ departments of agriculture and horticulture of state governments and UTs and other concerned departments and organisations dealing with crop production.
Dr. NK Patle, Addl.Commissioner (Hort.) & Executive Director, National Bee Board (NBB) said that beekeeping and honeybees would not only provide income to farmers but also enhance crop productivity through pollination in an eco-friendly manner. He informed that the National Bee Board was striving to implement the recommendations of the high-level Beekeeping Development Committee (BDC).
During the technical sessions, Dr. Unnikrishnan, GM of National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) shared the NAFED strategy for apiculture. Dr. Saravanan Raj, Director (Agri. Extension), MANAGE explained the agri-startups in the honey sector and discussed the opportunities and challenges in the sector. Jai Prakash of Indian Bank, New Delhi made a presentation on the traceability of sources of honey and other beehive products. L. Venkatram Reddy, Director of Horticulture & Sericulture, Govt. of Telangana presented horticulture, beekeeping and honeybee programmes being implemented by the state government.
Nearly 350 stakeholders which included senior officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, National Beekeeping and Honey Mission (NBHM), National Bee Board (NBB), National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), cooperatives, banks, directors and commissioners of state agriculture and horticulture departments, MANAGE faculty, agri start-ups and National Training Institutes under AgriClinic or AgriBusiness Centre (ACABC) scheme participated in the workshop both through physical and online mode.