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.