Believe it or not, the importance of bees stretches beyond their ability to produce honey. As India faces desertification and the size of its arable land decreases, bees play an increasingly important role in keeping crop yields high for the most vulnerable farmers in rural regions. Bees are natural which facilitate cross-pollination. Under The Mango Tree strives to develop more productive rural livelihoods as a result of…
improving household income by creating a marketable surplus of agri-horticultural* produce and providing direct market access for the sale of honey
increasing agricultural productivity by 30-50% through increased bee pollination
generating rural employment opportunities through associated beekeeping activities like developing bee flora nurseries, training in carpentry, tailoring and comb function (CF) mills.
Beekeeping is a low-cost activity that only requires thirty minutes of work per week. It is also an inclusive activity in which everyone in the farmer’s family can participate. The children observe and are fascinated by the bees’ unique behaviors over time through multiple seasons. The effects of beekeeping on crop yields are also impressive, with farming seeing up to a 50% increase in the output of major crops. As a result, the farmers increase their annual income by 25%. The women of the villages also gain employment from sewing nets and packaging honey for sales in the market.
In the words of farmer Shankar Baraf, a resident of Nani Kosbadi village, the bees create “magic” on the farms. On his farm, where he grows adad, he increased his yield by about two-fold from 75-80kg of the crop to a record 140kg. In addition to increasing his income to Rs. 11,000 from Rs. 8,000, he also has more free time to spend with his family, letting the bees do their “magic” instead.
Larger crop yields are a huge incentive for farmers to maintain their bee boxes; however, they are not the only reason. Farmers like Raghu Devram Padhvi extract honey from the hives in the boxes to sell at his local market. His honey sales have provided a fund to pay for medical and health requirements for his family.
As the farmers become experts in beekeeping, UTMT provides them with further training to promote them as Master Trainers. Our Master Trainers began like other farmers using bees to increase crop yield, but over time, they have gained full understanding of the methods of successful beekeeping. Not only do they teach other farmers in neighboring villages and districts, they also gained the confidence to fulfill the role of a leader. Their enthusiasm and expertise are the foundation of our work at the local level.
The farmers of India are finding revolutionary ways to farm with the help of organizations like ours. Under The Mango Tree is a leading social enterprise for rural livelihood development and we hope to set a model for any other organizations that are focused on improving the lives of Indian farmers.