Posts

38

Case Study – Vitthal Choudhary, Beekeeper

Vitthal Choudhary

Badagi village, Peth block, Nashik, Maharashtra

For Vitthal Choudhary,a 23-year old beekeeper from the small village of Badagi 3 hours away from Nashik city, keeping bees has proved to bea huge boon for his mango wadi (orchard).A diploma in Agricultural Science from a college in Nashik, he currently juggles his  Bachelor of Arts studies with a part-time job at a private company in Nashik. Vitthal’s father assists him in tending to his mango wadi and ensures that he gives special attention to the wadi alongside routine farmwork, watering and tending to it devotedly through the seasons. Vitthal attended Under The Mango Tree’s beekeeping training in a neigbouring village in December 2013. He liked what he learnt, accompanying the technical staff on searches for bee colonies in surrounding forests, and learning to transfer the bees into his beebox.

Vitthal has 2 beeboxes in his wadi since February 2014.Given by the NGO BAIF in 2003, the family’s 12-year old wadi comprises 20 mango trees, 15 cashew trees and 9 amla (Indian gooseberry) trees. His mango trees are of two popular mango varieties – the famous Kesari, and the Rajapuri. Until 2013, his annual mango harvest was 5 to 10 carats, with each carat fetching Rs. 200-300 in the local market. Vitthal’s mangoes thus brought the family an income of upto Rs.3000 annually. In 2014, they noticed a marked increase in mango output – 25 to 30 carats – a threefold increase compared to previous years! Also noticeable was a stark difference in quality – the mangoes were larger in size (each Rajapuri mango weighed nearly a kilo), and their flesh much sweeter in taste. The quality improvement was evident from the better rate they commanded in the market – each carat sold for Rs.400-500, nearly double the previous years’ price, bringing the income to around Rs. 10,000, a three fold rise!

 

Vitthal’s father points to the blooming mango tree that promises to yield a bountiful mango harvest

 

Vitthal with a frame of his beebox;

 

Vitthal’s father speaks about their beebox

Vitthal’s father is effusive in his delight, “Till 2013, the mangoes tasted slightly sour, and did not look like high quality fruit. You have to see last year’s mangoes crop to know the difference!” He credits his bees for the incredible change.“I tend to the farm throughout the year, and know my crops and trees. The change occurred only after the beeboxes came.”

The family used the extra money earned to pay Vitthal’s annual college fees of Rs.5000 and his travel costs to and fro Nashik to the village. They are happy they did not need to borrow from family and friends towards this, like they used to before.

Vitthal and his father have become firm believers in the pollination value of bees. Having witnessed firsthand the results, they hope the brinjal, tomato and fenugreek in their small vegetable patch, will also bear similar bumper yields next season. Vitthal is careful to practice the information he has gained from UTMT trainings. Having learned of the harm certain chemical pesticides pose to bees, he shared the information with his father who has stopped using chemicals for tomato plants.

Vitthal expresses eagerness to expand the number of beeboxes he owns, aiming for a total of 4 by 2016. If he manages to find 2 bee colonies, he will achieve his goal. He has already thought through the plan, intending to build a small make-shift house on the farm for ease of beebox caretaking. Their current house is situated half a km away from the farm’s location, making monitoring difficult. His enthusiasm with beekeeping shines through as he signs off, “Even if UTMT stops coming to teach us and check my beebox, I will continue to keep bees. Just the way the NGO BAIF came, taught us how to cultivate a wadi effectively and then exited the village after a years, I will similarly persist with beekeeping should UTMT stop providing support.”

 

 

 

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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

41

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!

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The inspiring story of OmnaTai

Omna Suresh Mauchi

Mauchipada village, Sakhri block, Dhule district, Maharashtra 

Omnatai, 38, from Mauchipada village in Dhule, is another rising star from the new batch of trainees in UTMT’s NABARD-supported beekeeping project. She was inducted in January 2015 as a Master Trainer, which entitles her to specialized training workshops held by UTMT for promising Master Trainers.

 

Trained in January 2014, Omnatai had never heard of beekeeping in boxes before UTMT came to her village. However, she was quite familiar with bees, having practiced honey hunting of the smaller, wild Apis florea bee with her family from a young age. It is this inherent fearlessness that served her well when learning the process of transferring the indigenous Apis cerana indica bees that UTMT works with, from nature into a bee box. Soon after the first demonstration by UTMT’s technical staff, she independently began scouting for bees and successfully transferring them into bee boxes, a great achievement as both are technical skills that usually a new trainee several weeks to learn. UTMT Program Associate Ms. Dhanshree Chavan vouches for her abilities, “She does colony transfers with great precision”.

 

To date, Omnatai has conducted 4 colony transfers. She often shares notes with Vimaltai, a fellow trainee and friend equally skilled at colony transfers. Together they make a formidable pair whom villagers refer whenever a new colony of bees is found.

Multitasking is necessary at such times. “My best experience of beekeeping is filling bees into bee boxes. If someone finds bees, I leave everything at home, even if I haven’t cooked, and rush there. My husband and children do not mind… they prepare tea, and wait for me to return and resume cooking. Sometimes, I wake up at 4 am, to cook and keep things at home ready, before leaving. It is not too tough to manage housework, farm work and beekeeping.”

Omnatai does not feel the activity is difficult, however she feels the need to understand in more detail the subsequent steps in the beekeeping process. She eagerly awaits the bees’ growth season when she will learn the technique of multiplying the bees to fill more bee boxes. This way, the other less confident members of her Self Help Group – Priti Mahila Bachat Gat – can have their bee boxes filled with bees quickly.

 

Omnatai perceives the increased yields of chillies, onion, chana, mango and amla on her humble 1.5 acre farm, to be the biggest benefit she will accrue from beekeeping. With the supplementary income obtained from these and the sale of honey, she intends spending for her children’s routine needs and for purchasing vegetables. 2 bee boxes presently stand in the farm.

She has had a fair share of detractors, “A few people say ‘Bees sting, why do you want to do this?.’ I tell them, ‘I am interested, that’s why.’”

Omnatai hopes to expand her number of bee boxes soon, even willing to invest personal funds if needed. She is also keen to help her group members fill their boxes and start practicing beekeeping soon.

 

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Honey – Mustard dip

For an extremely delicious Honey – Mustard dip you would need:

1 cup Mayonnaise

1/2 cup of your favorite UTMT honey

1/2 cup of mustard

Procedure

Mix all three ingredients together until thoroughly combined.

Hints – Low fat or reduced fat mayo is fine to use – it’s all that I usually have in the house.

Warm the honey for a few seconds in the microwave. It will make it much easier to combine.

* For quick scaling, use 4 parts mayo, 2 parts honey, 1 part mustard. Frequently I’ll use 2 tablespoons mayo, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) mustard for 1-2 servings, or 4 tablespoons mayo, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 tablespoon mustard for 2-3 generous servings.

And there you have it, a scrumptious dip to go with chips, fries or almost anything that you please!

 

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Success Stories – NABARD supported Beekeeping Training

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.

 

 

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Honey with Lime – Weight loss Formula

Weight loss involves a lot of determination and commitment.

While gymming or playing a sport can bring down your weight, eating right is also very important.

Beginning the weight loss regime here’s the “honey and lime” combination:

Why try just any honey when UTMT offers you a variety of honey that serves specific needs. For weight loss, try our  delicious range of honey of your choice.

 

Mix 2 tbsp honey in luke warm water and have it the first thing in the morning. Within 15 days, you’ll see the differenc for yourself.

 

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Naturally Exfoliate Your Skin

Your skin goes through a lot of pollution during the day. All it needs is a bit of relaxation and exfoliation. Basically, a ‘honey with oats’ face pack is the exactly what your skin needs!

To prepare your honey with oats pack, you will need:

– Half cup of your favorite UTMT honey

– Handful of oats

 

Procedure:

– Make a thick paste out of the honey and oats.

– Apply it on your face as a face mask

– Allow it to dry for about 10 to 15 minutes

– Exfoliate it thoroughly while removing it

– Wash your face with cold water and tap your face dry with a soft face towel

 

Notice how your skin feels rejuvenated and fresh!