| Anita Kumari Kushwaha observes bees. Telegraph picture |
Honey has helped more than 10,000 people script a sweet success story in the state and changed their lives.
In the past seven years, the number of bee-keepers has increased significantly, helping the state achieve the top position in honey production in India in 2012.
According to government figures, Bihar produces 11,000 tonnes of honey every year, raking in Rs 88 crore as revenue every year.
Anita Kumari Kushwaha (24), a beekeeper in Patiasa village of Muzaffarpur, started with just two bee boxes. Now, she has more than 200. “When I started bee-keeping eight years ago, I made a profit of Rs 10,000, which encouraged me to go ahead with this profession. Now, I have more than 200 bee boxes, which can produce around 100 quintals of honey per year with a profit of Rs 1.5 lakh,” said Anita.
Her dedication towards bee-keeping has prompted National Council of Educational Research and Training to introduce a chapter in its environmental studies textbook of Class IV titled “Anita the Beekeeper”. However, the credit for increase in honey production would have to be given to the agriculture department, which launched Bagwani Mission in 2006. Under the scheme, the government gave 50 per cent subsidy on bee boxes. From 2012, the bee-keepers received 90 per cent subsidy.
Ranjit Kumar Singh, a bee-keeper in Karma Bhagwan village of Aurangabad, said: “A bee box costs Rs 3,000 and it was not possible for me to purchase it. However, when government started giving subsidy on the bee boxes, I decided to start apiculture. After the 50 per cent subsidy, I used to get the boxes for Rs 1,500. After the 90 per cent subsidy was introduced, I get the bee boxes for Rs 300 each.”
Initially, Phulwarisharif-based beekeeper Parmesh Kumar was apprehensive about starting apiculture. However, after the launch of the Bagwani Mission, it has turned out to be the perfect business for him.
“I had this impression that apiculture would not be beneficial. But the scheme changed my perception. At present, I earn Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh every year,” said Parmesh.
Deputy director (horticulture) Sarvjeet Kumar said: “Bihar leads in honey production. Even landless people can take up apiculture. The government is also providing free training to the farmers.”