Rajkumar M. (left), assistant professor of entomology, College of Horticulture, Bidar, with Kashinath Hugar, a farmer who has taken to beekeeping in Sultanpur village. Photo: Gopichand T.
Flower growers in the village have been introduced to apiculture
Sultanpur village, known across Bidar district for its flowers, is soon likely to be known for its honey too, thanks to an initiative of the College of Horticulture, Bidar.
The village lies in the Manjra river valley on the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border. Most of the 200 farmer families in the village are into flower cultivation. As part of an internal arrangement, they grow various varieties of flowers to have an assured harvest every month. The flowers are sold either in retail shops here or in the wholesale market in Hyderabad.
Rajkumar M., assistant professor of entomology, said, “During a visit to Sultanpur, we realised that pollen-bearing flowers were found round the year in the village and that the use of pesticides and insecticides was minimal. We thought this would be an ideal place to start promoting apiculture (beekeeping).”
“When we were planning to train farmers, the State government announced a scheme to promote integrated farming system (IFS). Under the scheme, farmers are trained in agricultural diversification and provided financial incentives. We placed an order for 25 beehive boxes from the government apiculture farm in Sirsi, Uttara Kannada, and provided them free of cost to farmers in Sultanpur in October,” said Mr. Rajkumar, who is coordinating the IFS project.
Resource persons from Sirsi, along with Mr. Rajkumar and Brahma Dattatri, technical assistant of the IFS scheme, trained farmers in beekeeping.
“The response has been encouraging. We plan to double the number of boxes this year and train beekeepers in post-harvest technologies and branding,” he said.
Kashinath Hugar, whose family has been growing flowers for generations, wonders why he did not think of beekeeping earlier. “I’m happy that the college introduced me to it. I will setup four more bee boxes,” he said. He harvested honey from the first batch of beehives earlier this week and is preparing boxes for the next batch.
Kalyanrao Sangappa, who grows 11 varieties of flowers, said he was reading up about producing honey with different flavours. He plans to manufacture bee boxes on his farm using locally available materials.
Sharanappa Basavaraj has enrolled his name in the next list of beneficiaries and is eagerly waiting for the boxes. He plans to place the boxes near his farm where he grows onions.
The college has supplied colonies of Asiatic honey bee (Apis cerana indica) to farmers. They are best suited for the Indian climate and can be easily domesticated, Mr. Rajkumar added.