Posts

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Social Story: Our UTMT Champion

We have had a string of wonderful guests visit our rural project sites recently. In March, our Gujarat team hosted Mr. Martin Kunz – an accomplished, passionate beekeeper and fairtrade expert from the United Kingdom. Mr Kunz has been an enthusiastic UTMT supporter and provides valuable inputs from his many decades long career in the sector. Keen to learn about the impact of UTMT’s work, he interacted extensively with the beekeepers and UTMT staff, comparing and contrasting beekeeping practices with those of other regions in India and the West.

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At Tutarkhed village in Valsad district, a group of women beekeepers chats with Mr Kunz and his wife, with UTMT’s Gujarat team leader Dhara Patel translating along the way.

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Photographing the bees!

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Getting a close-up of the honey extraction process, aided by Master Trainers Madhubhai and Manilalbhai

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Thrilled to see UTMT’s latest experimental initiative – mud hives built using locally available raw materials. If successful, it will keep the hive cool in scorching summer months and help reduce starter kit costs.

We are very grateful to count Mr. Kunz as one of UTMT’s champions!

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Social Story – When our Respected Donors Trust Us all the more

We recently hosted on field in Nashik, Mr. Jehangir and Mr. Dinsoo, Trustees from our longtime funders Dr & Mrs S H M Modi Hormus House Benevolence Trust Fund. The Trust has been supporting beekeepers in Peth block of Nashik, Maharashtra for two years, where yields of mango, cashew, drumstick, French bean, bottle gourd have improved greatly since the intervention.

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Senior Master Trainer Tukaramji demonstrates the working of a honey extractor to a curious Mr Dinsoo and Mr Jehangir

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Learning from Senior Master Trainer Ravi about how bees live in a beebox
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Ravi explains the mobile based monitoring app specially developed for tracking beebox health
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Leafing through colourful scrapbooks developed by a beekeeper Mr. Mangesh Gagurde, where he shares his own experiences keeping bees
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UTMT Technical Assistant – Chabildas Jadhav

Chabildas Jadhav, 37, is UTMT’s most experienced Technical Assistant, having risen through the ranks from beekeeper, over 6 years. Hailing from Kopurli village in Nasik, he is a crucial part of the Maharashtra field team, travelling to new project villages in neighbouring districts to teach new farmers how to beekeep.

Chabildas also mentors the new bunch of Master Trainers from Maharashtra’s project areas, delivering trainings with little supervision.

We look forward to many more years of Chabildas’ expert guidance!

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One of the most progressive beekeepers in the fold, Chabildas constantly looks for new ways to expand his operations. He was the first to experiment with renting his beeboxes to pomegranate farmers in Nasik for pollination, an exercise that met with big success and led to demand for beeboxes from other pomegranate farmers.

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 Speaking of yield improvements in his own crops, he says the most notable is his gourds – a 40% increase, tremendous improvement in quality and a shorter flowering to fruiting period. Here he is seen taking Vijaya Pastala, founder of UTMT, to see the beeboxes

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Inspecting a bee colony closely
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Seated under a small mango tree, with a beebox and a honey extractor, Chabildas explains honey extraction to Master Trainer Tukaram before beginning the process.
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Teaching a batch of women beekeepers the ropes
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Discussing with fellow beekeepers their experiences and plans for expansion
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Social Story – Hemraj Maskole, Master Trainer

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Hemraj Maskole, 30, is one of UTMT’s most promising Master Trainers from the first batch of beekeepers in Madhya Pradesh. Hailing from the small forested hamlet of Padav in Hoshangabad district, Hemraj is a progressive farmer who loves learning new things. Experimental by nature, he is often the first to practice new beekeeping innovations taught during UTMT’s advanced Master Trainer workshops.

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On a beekeeping exposure visit organized by UTMT to Uttaranchal in 2014, Hemraj learned about how a wooden queen gate (the entrance through which bees enter & exit a beebox) was more effective in summers than the commonly-used metal one.  Returning home, he set to work fashioning a wooden queen gate on his own. He proudly shows it off to whoever visits.

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For Hemraj, his bees are like his pets. He attentively tends to them in all seasons, practising every tip learned from UTMT staff. Here, he has religiously plastered his beeboxes with moist mud externally, to cool the hive in searing hot 45 degree summers

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Checking on his beeboxes in the rains, with the help of fellow farmers. He takes great pains to keep the box dry using basic, readily available local materials – building a straw shade and covering the top with a plastic sheet.

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In the last two years, Hemraj’s technical skills have developed so well, he has been given the responsibility of teaching trainees from new projects areas.

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Hemraj with his 4-year old daughter. His family have gotten used to the beeboxes outside their home, and enjoyed the honey harvested last season. Hemraj believes that the agricultural improvements he has seen are much greater than value from honey.

 

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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!