Businesses around the world are struggling with the economic repercussions of COVID-19 and beekeeping is no exception. Beekeepers in India have been unable to tend to their hives, and harvest honey due to the nation-wide lockdown. The bee farming industry is likely to be severely affected just like all the other industries of the country. However, to tackle this problem, the government has announced a stimulus package of Rs. 500 crore with an expectation to boost honey exports from India.
What does the package have in store for beekeepers?
The stimulus package has been announced as part of the Rs. 20 lakh crore initiative announced by the Indian government to uplift the economy following the downfall due to COVID-19. It seeks to improve the infrastructure of development centres, collection marketing and storage centres, eventually leading to an increase in the income of 2 lakh beekeepers across India. The package will also focus on developing post-harvest and value addition facilities for efficiently processing the bee products.
The other priorities of the government include implementing standards and developing a traceability system to generate excellent products. This in turn will help fulfil the demands for high-quality honey and bee by-products around the world. The stimulus package will also be directed towards capacity building and especially focus on getting more women into the beekeeping business. Development of quality nucleus stock and bee breeders is also on the agenda, all of which are expected to bring the beekeeping business back on track after the pandemic.
The beekeepers’ businesses across the nation have taken a hit, and the package is expected to strengthen the businesses currently dealing with heavy losses. Seasoned beekeepers as well as farmers can utilize the funds to upgrade their gear and beekeeping equipment to increase their yield. This increased production when coupled with an efficient value chain will result in a profitable combination for the beekeepers and organic bulk honey suppliers of India.
Measures to Increase Honey Exports from India
In addition to the action plan devised to boost beekeeping, there are a number of measures that can be considered by the government to help the industry:
- Floral Calendar – New and upcoming beekeepers tend to be unaware about the floral chart and how it indicates the time and duration of blossoming periods in different areas. An initiative to educate the beekeepers about the calendar can boost their honey production.
- Harvesting Bee By-Products – Some beekeepers may not be very competent at harvesting the bee by-products, which have a wide usage in cosmetics, medicines and even food items. Investments can be made to train beekeepers in this area.
- Queen Grafting – The Queen bee needs to be replaced periodically to maintain a healthy and strong bee colony. The training given to beekeepers should include the method of queen grafting to help them change the queen from time to time.
- Eliminating Adulteration – Steps should be taken to eliminate adulteration of honey and bee products. This can be an important factor for boosting India’s honey exports.
- Space for Bee Boxes – Space should be made available for bee boxes in areas with higher chances of honey production in favourable seasons.
- Honey Bee Migration – Beekeepers tend to face problems with migrating their bees to locations with ideal conditions for honey production. An initiative for simplifying this procedure can encourage more beekeepers to migrate and improve the quality of their produce.
- Bee Medication – Bee medicines should be made available in required quantities, along with training sessions on how and when to use these medicines. Beekeepers should also be discouraged from using unnecessary chemicals.
- Beekeeper Insurance – There is a lack of insurance policies for the beekeeping industry and the government should make a provision for the same to help beekeepers during crisis situations like COVID-19.
- Pollination Services – These are carried out successfully around the world. Farmers and beekeepers need to be made aware of these services which can be mutually beneficial for them.
- Professional Advice – Beekeepers do not always have access to experts and provisions should be made to get them in touch with them for any help related to beekeeping.
- Hygiene – Maintaining hygiene within the apiaries is also of utmost importance and the required training should be given to ensure the production of natural and pure honey.
The government has taken the steps in the right direction to promote beekeeping by announcing the stimulus package. Using the funds to address all the problems faced by beekeepers and wholesale honey suppliers can be instrumental in improving the quality of Indian honey as well as to boost the income of beekeepers. India’s biodiverse ecosystem and a huge forest cover present ample opportunities for beekeepers, and the advancements in the field can have positive ripple effects on the environment as well as other industries like farming.