Beekeeping ventures across J&K have emerged as epitome of new business among the local unemployed youth.
Many people in Jammu and Kashmir, most of them youth, are able to earn a livelihood, because of honey bee colonies that have come up in different regions across J&K. With time, more and more young men and women are turning towards bee-keeping as dozens of local honey brands have earned good reputation across the markets.
Honey processing units established under the apiculture development scheme will go a long way in helping the bee-keepers as the department is facilitating the processing of crude honey produced by the farmers free of cost. The bee-keepers are provided with a logo as well as testing for successful marketing of honey for remunerative returns.
The honey processing units consist of automatic honey processing plant, moisture reduction unit, storage chamber, and bottling unit. It performs multi-functions, including preheating, processing, moisture reduction, filtration and bottling of the honey.
Pertinently, the department is promoting Ramban white honey of autumn season under ‘one district one product’, which is known for its best quality, colour and taste.
Beekeeping forms the potential part of integrated farming and can play an important role in doubling the farmer’s income, being a non-competitive off-farm activity. It also has a potential of employment generation due to wide agro-climatic diversity enabling round the year bee flora availability.
Notably, the National Beekeeping and Honey Mission (NBHM) aims at promoting Beekeeping and providing self-sustaining employment opportunities among farmers and unemployed youth in rural India. Under the programme, beneficiaries are provided with bee boxes, live bee colonies, tool kits and training.
Waseem Rafiq Bhat is a resident of Aglar village of Shopian district received active support from the Department of Agriculture in his venture. He currently owns about 1,000 bee colonies. Apart from ensuring a sustainable livelihood for himself, he engaged more than 10 youth of his village in beekeeping, who now possess their own colonies.
Similarly, another beekeeper, Farooq Ahmad Shiekh, who hails from Kupwara, said that he gets honey three to four times a year from his 100 apiaries established in his backyard in Handwara. “I get two harvests in Kashmir and another in Jammu and earn sufficient for my family. Though at times due to climate changes bee mortalities lead to losses but most of the times I generate good profit,” Farooq said. He adds that Kashmir nectar comes from the organic flora in the vast forests and the demand for the pure honey is amplifying tremendously on daily basis.