Sumitraben Shubhanbhai Bhoya, 43, is the latest addition to the cadre of woman Master Trainers in UTMT. Master Trainers are farmers who demonstrate special interest in beekeeping from among the group trained, and are imparted advanced skills so that they are equipped to care for all the village bee boxes.
Educated until Class VIII, Sumitraben’s life revolved around farm work, raising her 2 children and often migrating for labour work. She expected to continue the routine she was used to. However, things changed when she heard of a NABARD supported beekeeping training being conducted by UTMT in her village of Nadagkhadi. Beekeeping sounded very new and different, so she decided it was worth a try and attended the training in April 2014. Sumitraben liked what she learned, and became the first from her village to start practicing beekeeping.
The proud owner of 4 bee boxes, she says the bees are part of her family now. She worries about them like she does her own children. During a follow up visit by UTMT staff in February 2015, she spoke of her distress following the absconding of one bee box, “Someone from the village opened my box and now all the bees have absconded. I feel like as if a family member has left home.”
Sumitraben tries to encourage other women to find bee colonies, so their bee boxes get filled too. She takes a few women to her bee box when maintaining it, so that they are able to learn by observation.
Sumitraben has experienced first-hand the benefits that keeping bees can bring. On her 5 acres of land, she cultivates nagli, rice, vari, khurasani, udad, sunhemp, groundnut, tuvar, lady finger, moong, onion & water melon during different seasons. She says she has seen a 30-40% increase in the yields of sunhemp and tuvar.Sumitraben saw honey in her beebox for the first time in May 2014, when 950 gms honey was extracted. She sold it for Rs. 220.
Being from a small village Sumitraben is grateful to have had the opportunity to learna new livelihood generating activity. She feels her confidence and leadership qualities have improved. She would like to eventually work with UTMT in expanding bee keeping in her village.