An initiative to promote beekeeping as a source of livelihood in Chittoor, A.P.
“If the bee disappeared from the surface of the globe the man would only have four years of life left.” -Albert Einstein
Honey bees are known since ages for the value to the ecosystem in terms of pollination services and also production of honey which has many nutritional values. The progress of mankind has led to gathering it from the wild to man-made beehives to derive benefits. The practice is known as apiculture.
Hon’ble CM of Andhra Pradesh envisaged that every family in Andhra Pradesh makes an income of Rs 10,000 per month. To increase the income levels of a family, alternative livelihoods is a strategy that was adopted in Chittoor district in the form of apiculture. As a part of achieving this goal beekeeping project has been initiated with a target of 5,000 beneficiaries in Chittoor district.
The vision is to become a major supplier in domestic market of honey, beeswax and other high value hive products and to become a honey hub in India by 2024.
District Administration and VCF-Tata Trusts are creating an end to end implementation framework for beekeeping skill development which provides employment opportunities and income generation to SHGs, farmers, rural and urban unemployed youth.
Beekeeping has holistic benefits that relate to health, economy, employment and environment. This activity can be easily carried out by small farmers, landless, low income groups and women with a small investment and returns in the first year itself.
A person with just one unit comprising of six boxes can produce 18 kgs honey and make Rs 5400 per month additional income for almost 8 months in year. The total cost of one unit is Rs 30000 out of which 12000 is subsidy from Department of Horticulture and Rs 18000 is loan from DRDA.
This activity was new to the population of the district. However, with the District Collector’s support and technical support and convergence provided by VCF-Tata Trusts, this activity was introduced in the region. The technical support and implementation partners include DRDA-Chittoor, Horticulture Department, KVKs, National Bee Board and Industries Department. The Horticulture Department is providing 40% subsidy for the boxes, beehives and equipment, provided training budget and gave 75% subsidy for transport vehicle and processing unit.
Beekeeping Initiative launched on 15th August, 2018 in 65 Mandals of Chittoor district with 2,275 beneficiaries in phase-1 in which 5822 boxes were disbursed.
The major objective of this initiative is to encourage sustainable livelihoods in Chittoor District by providing SHG Women’s with an increased and diversified income. The intervention is being carried out in 65 mandals of Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh. An FPO was also formed to take up the marketing aspect with relevant licenses like GST and FSSAI and honey is being supplied to market through this FPO.
VCF-Tata Trusts supported the program with end to end technical support for implementation of beekeeping promotion for livelihoods.
Capacity building of identified beneficiaries was done in the form of training in apiculture and support was provided to access government subsidies and loans for bee boxes. Master trainers are being promoted in the region.
The team worked to create branding for the honey thus produced and called it as “Pure Chittoor Honey”.
In terms of marketing, local and international markets are being explored for the honey. The honey was also sold to Tirumala Tirupati Devastanams (TTD), Tirupati. Other temple boards are also being contacted for establishing market linkages. Apart from that, honey is being sold at retail outlets in Tirupati, Chittoor, Kuppam and Srikalahasti.
Further it is planned to value add the honey with flavours, establish a honey processing unit, promote collection of wild honey and establish a bee nursery in Kuppam; the first of its kind in the state of Andhra Pradesh. A similar intervention is being done in Ahobilam & Chagalamarri mandals in Kurnool district with tribal families.
This initiative is sure to spread its sweetness and revive the usage of bees for pollination and increase crop productivity too. The team is looking ahead for a sweet revolution for food, nutritional and livelihood security through beekeeping.