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Dalma villagers happy to get hooked to honey
- Self-employment initiative a hit in seven of 16 villages in sanctuary

The Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary has become a beehive of activity with villagers happily producing, what else, honey.

Thanks to the initiative taken by the forest department, tribals living in the villages inside the sanctuary have produced a sizeable quantity of honey by rearing bees, a scheme introduced to them five months ago by Ranchi wildlife division.

Mangat Mati, a local resident, was happy to note he had topped among fellow honey-producing villagers at the hill. “Honey is a gift of god,” said the Nutandih village resident who has produced as much as 4kg multi-floral honey from a bee colony that he set up with the assistance of the forest department.

“I now understand that there can be nothing better than producing honey for making a living. It’s fairly easy as we neither need land nor any raw material. A bee-keeper needs to spare only a few hours a week to look after his bee colonies. Therefore, it is ideal as a part-time occupation,” he told The Telegraph.

Honey production has been introduced in seven of 16 villages in the sanctuary.

These are Nutandih, Makulakocha, Bota, Amdapaahadi, Kotimakhla, Lasa and Konkabasa involving around 50 local residents.

Divisional forest officer Kamlesh Pandey said they started in Dalma in January. “We trained 100 villagers and provided them with boxes for rearing bee colonies. In the end, around 50 decided to take it up seriously. Now, seeing the results, more villagers want to join them,” he said.

Pollen and nectar of a flowering plant, explained Pandey, were the basic ingredients for honey production.

“As the Dalma sanctuary, spread over 192sqkm, is home to a variety of flowering plants, there could be no better place for honey production. We introduced bee-keeping in the sprawling hills as a self-employment initiative. Now, with the first lot of honey, it appears our initiative will not go in vain,” Pandey said.

In the last week, Dalma villagers extracted 30kg honey from the beehives and boxes provided by the forest department.

Pandey noted that forest honey had good market value, but since they did not have marketing infrastructure in place, the villagers would have to try and sell their produce. At least for now.

“But once production increases, the forest department will definitely think of setting up a co-operative society for the villagers to hook them up with the market,” he said.