‘Chang in thought process’ - HONEY commercial farming

Value addition, branding and marketing is significant to provide sustainable income to small and marginal famers. Mohamuni, West pilak , Thakurcherra, koaifung, North jolaibari villages located at Julaibari block of South Tripura district in Tripura. This area has been fairly diverse ecology from medium upland to lowland and soil type from sandy loam to clay loam with diverse crop plan. Some of the farmers/rural youths of this block are practicing apiculture and keep their apiary from May to October in this area to harvest honey from a wild bush locally. Income generation is important for any agricultural activity. Apiculture is proven to be an income generating enterprise under favourable conditions. But selling and marketing a honey remains a big challenge for apiculturist in the area i.e., due to lack of technical Knowhow and un-availability of honey processing unit.

In the year 2021, with support from ‘Formation and promotion 10,000 FPOs programme of Ministry of Agriculture and Famers Welfare (MoA&FW), GoI’ SDS has mobilised the farmers of Jolaibari Block of South Tripura district with support from district agriculture office and formed a farmer producer organization named “Pillak Farmers Producers Company Limited”. Multi crop FPO formed with special emphasis on honey & mashroom cultivation. 

SDS developed a strategic framework of value chain development for honey and beekeeping in Tripura. Initially, it started at Jolaibari block with 37 active shareholders of the FPC and eventually, the interventions were scaled up to 110 beneficiaries in a phased manner as farmers and SHG women have shown interest for beekeeping. SDS believe that a house with bees is an active and healthy household. Earlier people would take up beekeeping as a hobby, but now it has become a key income generating activity for many households. Villagers started beekeeping out of passion but soon realised its economic potential. 

Farmers registered themselves at the FPC to get accurate technical knowledge on beekeeping and was given training at khadi Board, KVK South Tripura. Farmers expanded their bee colonies and started extracting more honey than before. FPC also began packaging and brand development of honey and selling them at markets in Tripura, Guwahati and Delhi. The honey produced by these FPO members is being marketed with brand name “Pilak” and FPC also get MSME certificate form Govt of India. FPC started online marketing portal Government e-Marketplace (GeM ). 

Today more than 2000 kg honey produce in Jolaibari block. The honey produced by Apis cerana indica, the Indian honey bee. In Tripura has pure and having high medicinal properties. Bees collect honey from various Agricultural Horticultural flowers and other forest flowers i.e., Multiflora. The demand for good quality honey is so high that not even able to meet our own local market demands. This year FPC plans to increase number bee keepers and bee colonies of existing keepers by 10 or 20 boxes. The community at Jolaibari is trying to strengthen its beekeeping activities as a collective endeavour by establishing a FPC through which it aims to scale up honey production, improve packaging and marketing of honey, and even start producing honey-based value-added products.