In 2019, the Government decided to give status of farmers to landless beekeepers while recognizing honeybees as inputs to agriculture and diversifying the basket of beekeeping products as it aims to double farmers’ income by 2022.
As per Food and Agricultural Organization database, India ranked eighth in 2017-18 in the world in terms of honey production at 64.9 thousand tonnes while China stood first with a production level of 551 thousand tonnes.
As we can see from the above data, beekeeping in India has massive potential as an agro- based subsidiary occupation. A beekeeping enterprise exhibits great potential to uplift the economy of Indian farmers given the depleting natural resources and profitability in traditional agriculture.
The best part about the industry is that the economic returns from this venture are quite high compared to the investment required. The profession of bee-keeping offers an immense potential for providing employment to rural masses in India where many crops, vegetables, evergreen trees, forests etc. provide required flora. It does not need raw material in usual sense as nature provides the same in the form of nectar and pollen. It can be carried out by all age groups, i.e. by men, women, grown-up children and even by physically handicapped and retired person.
Despite all this, do the benefits of the trade reach the beekeeper at the grass root level? What is preventing the growth in the industry?
The beekeeper who is actually producing the honey is usually untrained and unskilled. They are unaware of the latest technological practices and are conned by middlemen who procure the honey from them which is then sold at much higher market prices.
Some beekeepers extract honey from brood frames by which damages the brood and the honey extracted is of poor quality. Traditional methods of extraction are unhygienic and very violent towards the bees. The reason why beekeepers do not use a super box is that it increases transportation cost.
There is no legislation restricting the farmer from the use of pesticides that are harmful to bee colonies. The indiscriminate use of pesticides leads to the destruction of bee colonies in the field.
Marketing of honey is a major constraint which discourages the producers. Bulk honey collected from different producers is often of poor quality and fails to meet the national and international standards. In the export markets, there is great competition and importing countries have strict quality requirements regarding aroma, colour, consistency and floral source. Most of the producers are not aware of these standards and ultimately they fail to meet the national and international standards. Many brands of Indian honey are banned in the European Union due to presence of pesticides.
Government inaction and stress on production further complicates the problem. Excess supply of poor quality honey brings down prices and farmers suffer. Adulteration is checked at later stages and not at the source which does not solve the issue. Farmers are not given the access to latest technology and taught right process which would ensure purity of honey at source itself.
How is Eiwa Changing the Scenario?
EIWA recognised the need in the market for single-sourced, unadulterated, minimally processed honey. It came into being with the idea of moving the beekeeper up the value chain with the use of technology.
Eiwa ensures that honey is produced through the use of high-tech hives and following ethical practices. The artificial hive that is used is sourced from Qfrog Labs which uses beeswax and minimal plastic to automate production and extraction. The honey extracted is untouched by human hands and even minimal machine interaction from the field to your home.
It is the first time in the world that honey is produced and distributed in a completely automated way.
Farmers are partners for EIWA instead of just producers. The farmers get access to subsidized technology, training on ethical and sustainable beekeeping and their produce is of higher quality. The honey is procured at a much higher rate than the prevailing market prices to make sure farmers are happy and do their best. The livelihoods of farmers increase without any dependency on marketing or support groups.
EIWA technology ensures that no violence against honey bees is committed minimizing trauma to the bees and health issues. Again high tech hives ensure minimal damage to hive during extraction and no bees get harmed or even traumatized. This ensures hygiene as well.
Our Beekeeping partners are farmers who understand and use the principles of permaculture, which are also the principles of nature. These beekeepers use our technology and are trained to follow ethical beekeeping practices. They understand that a mutually beneficial and sustainable relationship with the bees must be based on a truly holistic approach. They are trained about how the colony works as a complete, living entity and the manifold ways in which it interacts with its environment, with us and with other living things.
The best part is that women can also take up beekeeping as an additional source of income as with use of this technology the entire process is less violent. This is bound to provide further employment and improve their livelihood opportunities.
Hence, we can see that with productive use of technology and fair trade practices, beekeeping can be successfully promoted in rural area for creating self-employment among rural youth and practising farmers.