Rearing of ‘Apis Malifera’ honey bee and processing of locally produced organic honey is being promoted towards Income diversification for farmers. 2000 bee colonies have been provided to budding Beekeepers in the District over past 2 Years at 40% subsidy. Honey Processing and Battling Plant has been set up at Gulgam at a cost of 25 Lakh with Bottling capacity of 2 quintals per day. The Produce packaged in 500gram bottles, has been branded as Kupwara Honey for national and international market.
Bee Keeping apart from helping improve Crop Produce and sustainability, is valuable source of alternate income for a farmer.
Zakir Hussain Bhat, a local youth from Gulgam was working in a private bee keeping farm as a labourer. With active support and hand-holding of Agriculture department, Zakir setup his own Bee keeping unit with 5 Colonies and his enterprise has now grown to more than 200 colonies with annual production of 200 Qtls Honey.
Explaining the process of bee harvesting, Zakir says that “the Process certainly requires headwork and willingness to learn apart from Government support. Extraction of honey is quite feasible and hassle free in today’s times. In a normal colony, it takes 21 days for a queen bee to develop from egg stage and be capable of mating but by raising them in special dummy boxes, I am now supplying these adult ready-to-be-mated queen bees to farmers”. Another sources of pride for Zakir comes from his transition from merely an earner to employer of 3 other persons for his farm that fetches an annual turnover of 4 Lakh.
“The New Bottling Plant shall further raise the selling price of processed honey to Rs 600 per Kg and we can find a ready market in hotel industry” he says.
Mohd Sultan Malla who has 45 colonies with annual income of 1.80 lakh expects a similar boost in incomes through sale of processed honey.
Outcome for the District:
More than 500 farmers are today engaged in honey Production and processing and the district generates 480 quintals of organic honey every year with annual Turnover of Rs 3 Crores in this promising Sector. GI Tagging for thus product labelled as ‘Kupwara Organic Honey’ is also in pipeline that shall substantially boost market prices besides provide access to international and national markets for the local beekeepers.