Kupwara, Feb 11 (KNO): Rearing of “Apis Malifera” honey bee and processing of locally-produced organic honey is being promoted for income diversification of farmers.
Talking to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Abdul Rasheed, a resident of Gulgam, said around 2000 bee colonies have been provided to budding beekeepers in Kupwara over the past three years at a 40 percent subsidy by the agriculture department to generate employment and boost the economic sector in the district.
The honey processing and bottling plant have been set up at the village of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district at a cost of Rs 25 lakh with a bottling capacity of 2 quintals per day. The produce package in 500-gram bottles has been branded as Kupwara honey for national and international markets.
Zakir Hussain, a local youth from Gulgam, was working on a private beekeeping farm as a labourer, with active support and handholding from the agriculture department. Zakir set up his own bee-keeping unit with 5 colonies and his enterprise has now grown to more than 200 quintals of honey.
Explaining the process of bee harvesting, Zakir said, “It certainly requires hard work and willingness to learn, apart from the government support. Extraction of honey is quite feasible and hassle-free in today’s time.”
Another source of pride for Zakir comes from his transition from merely an earner to the employer of three other persons at his farm that fetches an annual turnover of Rs 4 lakh.
Today, more than 500 farmers are engaged in honey production and processing and the district guarantees 480 quintals of organic honey every year with an annual turnover of Rs 4 crore in this promising sector.
This product labelled as “Kupwara Organic Honey” is also in the pipeline that shall boost market prices besides providing access to the national and international markets for the local beekeepers, Zakir said.
Muhammad Yaseen, another bee-keeper of the village, has 140 beehives. Talking to KNO, he said, “We are promoting honey bees as agents of pollination which will result in only crop production. This village has more than 12 villagers who earn their livelihoods from beekeeping.”
The beekeepers need to migrate the beehives to Rajasthan, Gujarat and other states during winter. In case the beekeepers of the village raise their issues and demands related to financial assistance, the migration of honey units shall be registered with the Farmers Producers Organisation (FPO) which provides them identity cards so that they can easily migrate from one place to another and sell their brands outside the state—(KNO)