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Friday, August 5, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-73: HONEY PRODUCTION!


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K Venkateswarlu, son of Venkatasubbaiah was an ordinary tailor. He is 49 years old and is married to Jayalaxmi, aged 45 years. They have three sons. It is a poor family that owns no agricultural land. They used to eke out a living from tailoring, making about Rs.2, 000 per month. Jayalaxmi helped him with his
occupation.

Venkateswarlu heard about bee keeping for honey production from friends and relatives. He knew this was an opportunity for him to earn more money. One day he saw an advertisement in the paper about bee keeping, so he approached the Horticulture Department for all the information required to help him set up an apiary. He was offered a 50% subsidy. Therefore he was determined to get some training on bee
keeping.

In 2004 he did a week long training programme at Ongole which was sponsored by APRLP. After another three day training at Hyderabad he was ready to take on the challenge. In April 2004 he purchased five boxes with the 50% subsidy from the Horticulture Department. At the first attempt he did not get good results due to a lack of experience. In 2005 he worked in a bee keeping farm in Valiveru
in Tenali for three months to gain practical experience. He got some sound knowledge and experience to start on his own again. This time he took a loan of Rs.15, 000 from the village organisation supported by APRLP, made five new boxes and started honey production.

He was asked to describe what he does:

There are two kinds of boxes which can be used – (i) Super Box, and (ii) Normal Box. Every box has only one Queen bee and all the others are worker bees or drones. It takes 30 – 40 days for the bees to produce honey in these boxes. A Super box has 1 lakh bees and can supply up to 10 Kgs of honey while a Normal box has 40–50,000 bees and produces 5 Kgs. The quality of honey is dependent on the flowers in season.

In summer when the flowers are in bloom, the bees have to be given food in the form of a sugar solution. Each box needs 1 kg of sugar solution during summer.

The cost of making an empty box is Rs.1, 100.  Each box with bees costs Rs.2, 500 and can produce 5 – 8 Kgs of honey. The honey is sold at Rs.150 per kg. The annual income per box is about Rs.8, 000-9, 000 and the annual expenditure per box is just Rs.250.

In February 2007, Venkateswarlu borrowed Rs.70, 000 from the Punjab National Bank and put in 5% as his contribution. With this he made 40 new boxes. Now he produces a lot more honey and his income has increased. He has become a resource person cum expert on bee keeping for which he is paid a daily honorarium of Rs.250. With access to an assured income he has constructed a new house and his children are studying in college. His life is sweet now, thanks to the project.

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