30 April 2022, Pant Nagar: FMC India today announced a collaboration with Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology (GB Pant University) to develop entrepreneurship among rural women through beekeeping, as a means to generate sustainable income for their families and raise their living standard.
Named Project Madhu Shakti (Madhu in Hindi means “honey” and Shakti refers to “female energy”), this is a first-of-its-kind innovative sustainable development initiative in India. The project, spanning three years, is planned for the rural area of Uttarakhand, located in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range, where there is an abundant source of natural herbs and flora useful for honey production.
Approximately 53 percent of the population in Uttarakhand lives in hills and mountains, out of which 60 percent falls below the poverty line.Mr. Ravi Annavarapu, President, FMC India, said, “Our objective with Project Madhu Shakti is to transform the lives of rural families by empowering women in agriculture with sustainable business opportunities. We place sustainable agriculture at the center of our commitment to support farmers who maintain a safe and secure food supply, while protecting the environment for future generations. The success of this project will not only encourage women farmers in India to see beekeeping as a fruitful endeavor, but also address the global concern around safeguarding pollinator populations under intensive agriculture.”
As part of the project, rural women will be selected from Sitarganj, Kotabagh, and the towns of Almora and Ranikhet and trained in beekeeping. The produce from the farmers’ beehives will be procured by the university’s Honey Bee Research and Training Centre (HBRTC) through a revolving fund set up to facilitate payment to farmers and market products from the hives. The project will also closely monitor pollinator behaviour, generating a wealth of scientific knowledge that will benefit beekeepers across the country.The success of Project Madhu Shakti aims to inspire more women farmers in the country to adopt beekeeping as an entrepreneurial business. The increase in the density of pollinators in Uttarakhand is expected to translate into an increase in pollination rate and growth of biodiversity, which supports agricultural productivity. Other goals of the project include promoting good agronomic practices that lead to the safe and judicious use of pesticides while keeping honeybees safe.
Dr. A.K. Shukla, Vice Chancellor of GB Pant University, said, “Beekeeping is one of the most sustainable business opportunities for rural women in the state to generate additional income with minimal investment and multifold benefits. The state’s rich biodiversity will allow the bees to thrive, produce a wider selection of honey and keep the ecology well balanced. The project will be a win-win not only for the environment, but also for individual farmers.”
In a biodiverse state like Uttarakhand, the potential of beekeeping remains untapped. The state currently produces only 12,500 metric tons of honey. This figure is expected to grow significantly under the aegis of a program like Madhu Shakti.
Beekeeping is a very attractive and lucrative rural agri-based enterprise as it requires no sophisticated technology or infrastructure, and low investment. It suits well in the integrated agricultural system as an allied activity to increase the economy of the farming community.The project was launched at G.B. Pant University in the presence of Vice Chancellor Dr. A.K. Shukla, FMC India President Ravi Annavarapu, the University’s Director Research Dr. Ajeet Nain, FMC Director for Public & Industry Affairs Raju Kapoor, and FMC Stewardship Lead for Asia Pacific Esley Ng.