About 500 tribal landless labourers have been identified through ‘Vikasa' an NGO working with National Agriculture Bank For Rural Development (NABARD) for training in bee-keeping, spread over five villages in Dumbriguda and Araku mandals in the district.
The project costing Rs.32 lakh given by NABARD will be implemented in a phased manner. Launched in the middle of 2011, the first phase of the project covering 100 tribal men and women is coming to the end of its season in March 2012.
Vikasa implementing the project through the Village Development Committees (VDC), had purchased 400 hives (structures) from Tiwana Bee Farm, Ludhiana, Punjab and supplied 4 hives per family to cover 100 families. Trained youth take care of 100 hives each at different centres and also man the apiaries and ensure their maintenance apart from supervising honey extraction. The hives supplied to the beneficiaries are located in the villages of Billapaut, Anthriguda and Bhalluguda in Dumbriguda mandal and Ranazilleda and Kodipunjuvalasa in Araku Valley mandal.
Bees purchased from bee keepers in Guntur district were given to the beneficiaries. Nizer and Mustard crops were promoted through the farmers in the project area as part of flora required for apiary.
Under the ‘Maa Thota' programme flora including Nizer, Euculyptus and Pungamia etc were being raised adopting organic cultivation techniques to house the apiaries and creating a congenial climate for the bees.
Bee Keepers Developmental Committees had been formed by NABARD and selection of beneficiaries were done by VDC's under the supervision of Vikasa.
Technical services were being provided by Agriculture Research Station (ARS) at Bapatla and ARS Vijayarai, Pedavegi mandal, West Godavari district for training and capacity building of the tribal youth. The 100 families engaged in bee-keeping had extracted about 1,500 kgs of honey so far from November 2011. The tribal families could sell about 1,300 kgs in retail to the tourists who came to Araku Valley as the bee season coincides with tourist visits in winter and summer.
Vikasa ensures purity in honey, hygienic practices and transparency on location sites and improvement in yields up to 25 per cent due to bee pollination.
NABARD deputy general manager C.Udaya Bhaskar told The Hindu that the tribal families were earning extra income from bee-keeping at the rate of Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 25,000 an year. The beneficiaries were landless labourers. One kilogram of honey costs Rs. 200 and the honey supplied by the tribal beneficiaries were of superior quality and 100 percent in purity. In the 2012-13 year another 200 families will be covered bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 300 out of the 500 families identified. A common facility centre is shortly being set up at Srungavarapu Kota which will serve as a stock point. NABARD chief general manager P. Mohanaiah was instrumental in the formulation of the project for landless tribal families.