Since the pre-independence era, beekeeping activity was a part of the local culture at Ponnampet in the picturesque landscape of Coorg, now renamed as Kodagu, in Karnataka. But due to lack of any scientific knowledge, it was practiced in a crude manner.
However, in the 1920’s, Swami Shambavanand ji of Sri Ramakrishna Sharada Ashram introduced bee boxes and engaged local population with beekeeping activities scientifically. He also provided handholding to local beekeepers for selling their honey across the country. The bee boxes were brought first time from America by a woman disciple of Swami Shambavanand ji. Later on, in the year 1934, Mahatma Gandhi visited Ponnampet and further encouraged beekeeping as a part of the village industry activities.
Due to lack of proper technical and marketing support, beekeeping activities in Coorg region witnessed a sharp decline. However, seeking to carry forward this rich legacy and strengthen the local beekeepers, Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has rolled out a comprehensive plan.
KVIC Chairman Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena on Monday distributed 500 bee boxes to 50 trained local farmers under Honey Mission. The bee boxes were distributed at the College of Forestry, Ponnampet. During the last two years, KVIC has already distributed 1250 bee boxes to local beekeepers and farmers. Encouraged by the feedback and growing inclination of the locals towards beekeeping, KVIC is in the process of setting up a honey cluster under its SFURTI Scheme that will benefit more than 700 local farmers.
Located along the Karnataka – Kerala border, Kodagu is nestled in the rich biodiversity of Western Ghats. The area surrounded by dense forests and coffee plantation is almost a zero-pesticide region. A variety of wild edible fruits like Sebesten Plum, Dragon’s Eye fruit, Jack Fruit, Wild Olive, Cluster Fig and Madagascar Plum and Indian spices like cardamom, black pepper and others are also grown in this region and the honey produced here have rich medicinal values.
“KVIC is progressing swiftly with setting up of honey cluster under SFURTI Scheme to support the beekeepers and create a marketing platform for them. Under this scheme, 90% of the fund required for setting up the cluster is provided by the government while only 10% of the funding is done by the implementing agency. This cluster will further boost the beekeeping activities in Kodagu district where KVIC has just launched the unique Project RE-HAB to mitigate Human – Elephant conflicts using Honey Bees,” Saxena said.
The proposed honey cluster namely “Kodagu Buzzing Bee Honey Cluster” is being implemented by Agriculture Sciences Forum of Kodagu. The rich flora of the region is conducive for production of high quality honey. The cluster will provide the beekeepers and artisans with a common facility centre (CFC) and all other technical support like extraction, bottling and packaging of honey as well as marketing support to sell the honey.