Posts

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Case Study – Chabildas Jadhav

Technical Assistant Chabildas Jadhav

Kopurli village, Peth block, Nasik district, Maharashtra state

 

Chabildas Jadhav 36, first learned of beekeeping in 2009 when UTMT visited his village. Uncertain about his future and depressed with his meager income from agriculture and wage labour, he enrolled for the training held in his small village of Kopurli in Nasik.

Initially the only motivation to practice bee keeping was to support his family comprising of his wife and three children. But gradually he began to finding bee keeping fascinating. What started out as an income generating activity soon became a passion. He worked hard, quickly rising up the ranks from beekeeper to Master Trainer and now Technical Assistant in UTMT’s Maharashtra team. Today, Chabildas not only delivers training to farmers in new project areas and checks beeboxes, but also mentors newly recruited Master Trainers. Chabildas acknowledges the constant support and encouragement received from UTMT as a key factor in his ascent. He is grateful to the organization for recognizing his potential and giving him opportunities to develop.


Chabildas Jadhav with one of his beeboxes

Of the 9 bee boxes Chabildas owns, he rents 5 to other farmers in Nasik for pollination purposes and keeps 4 in his own 5-acre farm. According to him, not only has he seen the yield of gourd increased by 30-40%, but there is tremendous improvement in its quality and a shorter duration between the flowering to fruiting stage. As a result, he is able to harvest greater quantities of better quality vegetables more frequently in each season. This in turn has increased his agricultural income to support his family, which earlier was difficult.

Sensing a larger opportunity, Chabildas piloted Pollination services in February 2013, when he gave 3 beeboxes to a pomegranate farmer in Peth for 6 months. Chabildas visited the pomegranate farm to maintain the beeboxes twice a month. Although he did not charge for experiment, the farmer, seeing the improvements in fruit yield and quality, paid him Rs. 10,000 in gratitude. Word spread quickly in the area, and 4 more orchard owners have approached Chabildas for renting beeboxes. He intends charging Rs.1000 per beebox per month for the coming season.

Chabildas has reached a stage where he has enough bees to sell. When the need for beeboxes in new project areas in Maharashtra arises, he sells his beeboxes to UTMT. Over the last 2 years, he sold 7 bee colonies for an average of Rs. 750 each.

His financial situation has thus improved considerably since his pre-beekeeping days. Chabildas’ income sources used to be fragmented, before he joined UTMT. Until 2012, he worked part time 3 days a month with the NGO BAIF, on a monthly salary of Rs. 800/ month. His work comprised teaching women self help groups how to maintain records, understand accounting and take loans. For 8 months annually, he also migrated to Nashik, working as a daily wage labourer in vineyards. After joining UTMT full time as a Master Trainer in 2012, Chabildas left BAIF and stopped migrating altogether.

Chabildas’ wife Mirabai is involved in beekeeping in her own way. She is a member of the village women’s Self Help Group – Shiv Shakti Mahila Bachat Gat – which was formed by UTMT to create employment opportunities around beekeeping for women. The SHG was trained to tailor 2 beekeeping inputs – swarm bags and bee veils – and they have begun supplying the items regularly to other UTMT project villages. Chabildas and his wife constitute two important members of the beekeeping ecosystem in Kopurli village.

When Chabildas reflects back, he feels that life took an altogether different turn after UTMT entered the scene. He is more than able to support his family and can comfortably provide for the education of his three children. His eldest daughter who was earlier to discontinue schooling due to his inability to meet timely fee payments, is presently in junior college, while his second daughter is readying for her Std. 10 board examinations. His son studies in Std. 7. Interestingly, a side effect of beekeeping has been his acquiring a higher social status within the village. Neighbours often approach him for advice on a host of matters, and take small loans from him. Recently in 2014, he purchased a two wheeler, something he has aspired towards for many years. He feels it will save him tremendous time commuting between villages, eliminating his reliance on irregular public transport. He took a loan for for the purchase from UTMT, and is repaying it in installments. Chabildas’ next hope is a concrete house, for which he has applied for a subsidized home loan through a Government scheme.

For Chabildas the association with UTMT has been beneficial on all fronts and he is immensely thankful for the change. He comments while sharing his thoughts, “In the beginning my involvement with UTMT was solely to fulfill my economic needs, but now there’s an emotional connect too”. He feels that his journey from someone who had to struggle hard to make ends meet, to the present where he has a direction in life, has been an incredible experience.

 

 

 

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Case Study – Lahanubhai Tople, Carpenter

Lahanubhai Tople

Carpenter

Tutarkhed village, Dharampur block, Valsad district, Gujarat state

Lahanubhai Tople, 40, is a simple farmer hailing from Tutarkhed, a remote tribal hilltop village situated 3 hours away from Valsad town in south Gujarat. A small-scale carpenter by profession, Lahanubhai’s irregular and meager income proved insufficient to sustain his family of five. He routinely migrated to Dharampur or Valsad for four to five months a year, leaving his wife and 3 young children behind. Lahanubhai detested the travails of migrating – the unfamiliar environment, the uncomfortable adjustments, the distance from his family and most of all the exploited feeling. The lack of a sense of belonging that came with being a migrant worker, left him dispirited.

 

 

A few members of the carpentry group

 

Lahanubhai displays wooden beebox frames made by the group

 

 

Cutting wood into specific dimensions using a cutting machine 

In 2012, UTMT’s operations had expanded so extensively, that the demand for beeboxes outweighed their supplier’s capability to deliver. The need to start in-house production of beeboxes was felt. UTMT staff began scouting for skilled carpenters in the project villages, and in the process met Lahanubhai. He asked umpteen questions, trying to understand the work it would entail and prospects for growth. He saw it as a risky proposition at first – beginning manufacturing of a new, niche product. Using inputs from the UTMT staff, he mapped the costs and potential profits per box and found it worthwhile. Lahanubhai travelled to Kolhapur, Maharashtra for a month long carpentry workshop under the tutelage of a popular beebox maker. Once acquainted with the process and specifications, Lahanubhai felt more confident of his capabilities. He made 10 beeboxes on a trial basis, using the feedback from staff to refine his technique. Orders began to flow in, and Lahanubhai no longer felt the need to migrate for work, even going on to hire two apprentices from the village.

 

 

Wooden frames in the unit

Today, two and a half years and 500 beeboxes later, Lahanubhai smiles as he recalls his journey from part time migrant labourer, part-time carpenter to full time resident village carpenter manning a unit of 9 workers. He feels proud that the beeboxes he makes stand on farms in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. He speaks of the labour and time intensive phase in early 2013, when he cut wood with an axe and polished it with a hand machine. Realizing operations would be more efficient with a cutting machine, he purchased one with a Rs. 40,000 loan from a shopkeeper and a UTMT staff member. With the comfortable 20%-30% profit earned on each beebox, he made enough to repay the loan after just 50 beeboxes. Lahanubhai continues to dream big: he hopes for a stable electricity connection that will help him produce upto 100 beeboxes a month, a big jump from the current 60-70.

With the steady stream of income, Lahanubhai has rebuilt his humble mud house into a brick-cement house and ensured his children continue their education. He is proud that his eldest daughter, who was to discontinue schooling due to untimely fee payments, has appeared for the state Higher Secondary Examinations. In addition, healthcare is another major spend. “Earlier, I had to regularly borrow money when I fell ill. Now, I do need to borrow!”

“UTMT changed my life… It’s like they were God-sent. I had never seen so much money before…Earlier, I used to be worried about where my next meal would come from. Today, amounts as huge as Rs. 1 lakh get deposited as advances in my account!”

More than anything else, Lahanubhai values the respect he gets from the community and the self-confidence he has developed. He enjoys his work and knows that he does it well. Associating with UTMT has given his life new direction. He has money, satisfaction, pride and more than that, a deeper intangible joy.

Finished beeboxes stored indoors

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Master Trainer Success Story – Bharatbhai

Bharatbhai Bhoya, 25 is UTMTs youngest Master Trainer from Tutarkhed village in Gujarat. Bharatbhai initially cultivated only rain-fed crops such as Rice, Ragi, and Black Gram.

After being trained by Under The Mango Tree on beekeeping, Bharatbhai understood the role bees played as pollinators and their impact on increasing farm yields. He then adopted a bee-friendly cropping pattern and today also takes a second crop, that includes Sunn Hemp, Onion, Niger and Gram.

As a result of bee pollination, yield of these crops have increased by 80% earning him an additional income of Rs 7700/- last year. With regard to income from honey, he says “In the monsoon when we have no income source, we have honey to sell”. Last year, he earned Rs. 2300/- through honey sales with the help of UTMT.

As a result of honey and increased farm yields, Bharatbhai has now been able to add Rs 10,000 to the Rs 25,000 he earned annually before beekeeping.

His income thus increasing by 40% in just one year!