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Beekeeping in India

Topics Covered: Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

Beekeeping in India

What to study?

For prelims: India’s rank in honey production, key recommendations.

For mains: Challenges faced by the industry and what needs to be done to realise the full potential of the industry.

Context: A webinar was conducted by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) on the theme “Sweet Revolution and Atma Nirbhar Bharat”.

The objective was to popularize scientific beekeeping as source of livelihood for landless rural poor, small and marginal famers to supplement agricultural income, as also as tool to enhance agriculture and horticulture production.

Efforts by the government:

  1. Government is promoting Beekeeping as part of its aim to double farmers’ income.
  2. The Government has allocated 500 crores towards Beekeeping under the Atma Nirbhar Abhiyan.
  3. National Bee Board has created four modules to impart training as part of the National Beekeeping and Honey Mission (NBHM) and 30 lakh farmers have been trained in beekeeping. They are also being financially supported by the Government.
  4. The Government has launched ‘Honey Mission’ as part of ‘Sweet Revolution’.
  5. India is among the world’s top five honey producers.
  6. Compared to 2005-06 honey production has risen by 242% and exports shot by 265%.

Significance of Beekeeping:

As per Food and Agricultural Organization database, in 2017-18, India ranked eighth in the world in terms of honey production (64.9 thousand tonnes) while China stood first with a production level of 551 thousand tonnes.

Further, beekeeping can be an important contributor in achieving the 2022 target of doubling farmer incomes.

What needs to be done?

Expand the scope: Beekeeping cannot be restricted to honey and wax only, products such as pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom are also marketable and can greatly help Indian farmers.

Increase in area: Based on the area under cultivation in India and bee forage crops, India has a potential of about 200 million bee colonies as against 3.4 million bee colonies today. Increasing the number of bee colonies will not only increase the production of bee-related products but will boost overall agricultural and horticultural productivity.

Recommendations made by Beekeeping Development Committee under EAC-PM:

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister had set up a Beekeeping Development Committee under the Chairmanship of Professor Bibek Debroy.

BDC was constituted with the objective of identifying ways of advancing beekeeping in India, that can help in improving agricultural productivity, enhancing employment generation, augmenting nutritional security and sustaining biodiversity.

Some of the recommendations in the report include:

  1. Recognizing honeybees as inputs to agriculture and considering landless Beekeepers as farmers.
  2. Plantation of bee friendly flora at appropriate places and engaging women self-help groups in managing such plantations.
  3. Institutionalizing the National Bee Board and rechristening it as the Honey and Pollinators Board of India under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. Such a body would engage in advancing beekeeping through multiple mechanisms such as setting up of new Integrated Bee Development Centres, strengthening the existing ones, creating a honey price stabilization fund and collection of data on important aspects of apiculture.
  4. Recognition of apiculture as a subject for advanced research under the aegis of Indian Council for Agricultural Research.
  5. Training and development of beekeepers by state governments.
  6. Development of national and regional infrastructure for storage, processing and marketing of honey and other bee products.
  7. Simplifying procedures and specifying clear standards for ease of exporting honey and other bee products.

Sources: pib.