Nagaland producing 200 tonnes of honey annually

P. Longon calls for further boosting of apiculture in the state

DIMAPUR, MARCH 9 (MExN): A two-day state level seminar on ‘awareness, motivational and technology transfer for development of beekeeping in Nagaland’ took off on Wednesday, March 9 at the NE Agri Expo site, 4th Mile, Dimapur. The seminar is organised by the Nagaland Bee Keeping & Honey Mission and sponsored by the National Bee Board (NBB).  Dr. BL Saraswat, executive director of the NBB is one of the resource persons at the workshop which has in attendance beekeepers from around the state.
Minister for Soil & Water Conservation and Land Resources P. Longon addressed the inaugural session as the chief guest.  “This is an excellent opportunity for farmers and beekeepers to gain valuable knowledge from the expert resource persons who will be sharing their technical knowhow and expertise,” said the chief guest while expressing optimism that following the seminar the participants will go back motivated and more equipped to further strengthen the beekeeping industry in the state.
The state is blessed with the ideal agro-climatic condition for beekeeping, while traditionally it has been an age-old activity among the Nagas, he said. Realising its immense potential the state government had launched the Nagaland Beekeeping & Honey Mission in October 2007. The objective was not only to harness its rich potential but also to create a road map for the development of beekeeping in the state, Longon recalled, nevertheless commenting that it is still at a nascent stage. 
The Mission so far has been able to create awareness on the importance of beekeeping in the state while beekeeping as an economic activity is gradually gaining momentum, he said. As a result “production of honey in the state has gone upto 200 metric tones per annum”, he informed, besides beekeeping and its related activities is providing employment opportunities to many.  The Mission further endeavours to promote: ‘Nagaland Honey’ as the preferred brand name for honey produced in the state.
On the other advantages of beekeeping or apiculture, he said that integrating the activity with agricultural, horticultural, forestry, rural development and community based projects will boost the farming community.
“Honey bees play an important role in crop pollination.” With 80 percent of the state population engaged in farming, apiculture when promoted will further enhance the agricultural productivity manifold, he asserted. 
“I am very sure such a seminar will do the needful in motivating and providing the technology transfer to the farmers of the state, at the same time it will pave the way for more coordination amongst the various departments.” Longon urged the NBB for their patronage and guidance in this regard.
Encouraging the people who have taken up apiculture in the state, he urged them to be dedicated and sincere in their chosen activity while at the same time ardently collaborate with the implementing agency as “partners and as stakeholders…” He expressed hope that the state’s beekeepers will take apiculture to a larger commercial level and become successful entrepreneurs “for which the state can be proud of.”
He further called upon the NBHM to continue doing the good work they have initiated with unflinching dedication backed by vibrant team spirit.  

‘Beekeeping a goldmine’: NBB executive director

DIMAPUR, MARCH 9 (MExN): Executive director of the National Bee Board (NBB), Dr. BL Saraswat termed beekeeping as a ‘goldmine’. This was stated during a presentation on the topic: ‘Status of Beekeeping and Honey Enterprise in India: The Challenges Ahead’ by Dr. Saraswat at the first technical session of the two-day state level seminar on ‘awareness, motivational and technology transfer for development of beekeeping in Nagaland’ being held at the NE Agri Expo Site, 4th Mile, Dimapur.
 With an average annual production of 65, 000 tonnes of honey, apiculture today is providing employment to 1.5 lakh people in the country, said Dr. Saraswat. The export value of honey produced in India is now Rs. 250 crore. Honey production is projected to increase to 10 million tonnes per annum in the coming years while employing a further 215 lakh people and the export value is estimated at Rs. 800, 000 million.  Taking the consideration its economic potential, Dr. Saraswat called for adopting scientific method in apiculture. As of now, beekeeping in India is centred only on traditional methods while he admitting that scientific beekeeping is still absent in India. “If one takes up scientific method the remuneration will be much higher.”
Another important reason why beekeeping is receiving so much thrust is that it is directly related to agriculture and crop production, he said, for the simple reason being bees help in pollination of crops. Hence, beekeeping is also treated as the ‘fifth input’ for overall development of agriculture in a sustainable manner. The four main inputs required in agriculture are land, labour, capital and management. Apiculture as the ‘fifth input’ regulates the efficacy of the other four inputs, he added.
Further substantiating this, he quoted Albert Einstein: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!”  Beekeeping today is constrained by deforestation, wildfires, water and air pollution, mono-cropping culture and importantly indiscriminate use of insecticides, pesticides, weedicides and other chemicals used in agriculture, Dr. Saraswat said.
This type of campaigns and awareness meet are required, he said on the objective of the seminar. The objectives of capacity building programmes are to create awareness among farmers as well as the officers and employees of the related government departments, to encourage and adopt scientific beekeeping method and management on use of pesticides in various crops to protect honeybees.  And also creating awareness on the role bees play in increasing crop yield.
There is huge potential in beekeeping, he reminded while estimating that there is a requirement of 200 million bee colonies to provide pollination to India’s 12 major crops.  Mission Director of the NBHM Mhathung Yanthan declared that the USP (Unique Selling Point) of the honey produced here is its organic nature, thereby giving it a higher trade value. He added that nine villages have already been identified in the state as organic honey producers.