Apiculture and sustainable livelihood in Kashmir valley

Apiculture is an activity that can have an impact on all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Apiculture and sustainable livelihood in Kashmir valley
Representational Pic

Ruyida Mushtaq

The world we live in is changing rapidly, and the graph of change is going up at an incredible rate. The changes in local and regional climate are adding to the difficulties we - involved in agriculture and its allied activities - face in feeding the world. In Latin language, the word “Apis” is used for “honey bee”, and Apiculture is the science and practice of “beekeeping.” Honey harvesting has been experienced by humans for at least 4,500 years, and its valuable benefits are fully known.

The product that most people remember when they hear the name bee is honey even though honey is just one of several different products that can be harvested from bee colonies. Bee wax, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and venom and using bees in apitherapy are other products of honey bees. In addition to their diverse products, one of the most valuable services of this insect is biodiversity conservation and pollination (Bradbear 2009). For beekeepers to get adequate honey required to plant and preserve more trees, the process of beekeeping will act as a catalytic agent for sustainability and conserving the environment alongside decreasing the use of trees as a source of energy. The abundance of bees and their close connection with flowering plants make their role in pollination the keystone in the dynamism of the world’s wild and agricultural ecosystems.

Results of empirical research studies show that 45% of agricultural products in the world which are directly consumed by humans, are pollinator-dependent between 1% and 40%, 28% of them are 40–90% pollinator-dependent, and 12% are 90% pollinator dependent (IPBES, 2016). It is forecast that we need to raise the overall food production level by some 70% by 2050. Although governments and large corporations have made great effort to provide the food required in the world, 70% of the world’s food is provided by small-scale farmers (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2018).

If we aim at creating and improving our livelihood securities, beekeeping is a useful means because it both uses and creates a series of different capital assets including social capital. Beekeeping and pollination play a vital part in agriculture production and food security. The United Nations have put forth a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which serve as objectives to help alleviate poverty and hunger on a global scale. Apiculture is an activity that can have an impact on all the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) in consideration of the possibility it offers to improve food production systems from the most subsistence production methods to the highly developed technological advanced systems. It can do so without creating pollution or waste which has a positive impact on biodiversity. It not only produces a nutritious and high-value food product which generates income, but it also creates employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities along the honey value chain (input provision, production, processing, and marketing). Beekeeping brings people together and assists in the global dissemination of knowledge of about all 17 sustainable development goals.

Investment, no matter what, is very important for every business activity or sector and agriculture is no exception. Investment has a dual role: On one hand, it increases capital or leads to capital formation and on the other hand, it improves productive capacity or efficiency. Beekeeping is an agricultural activity that requires very little investment and can take place almost anywhere in rural or peri-urban areas. It is one of the agricultural productions that do not require land. However, it requires good know-how in order to manage bee colonies and to make choices of practices adapted to the environment. It is necessary to have a good knowledge and this is why we need to develop the economics of beekeeping as a separate branch so as to disseminate the nature and scope of beekeeping. Moreover, integration of beekeepers and knowledge transfer among them is extremely important. Beekeepers come together in different organisations and levels. At the local level there is the highest number of connections, which are further linked at regional and national level. Site is one of the essential components of beekeeping which includes different criteria like soil, climate and physiography. Valley plain has more potential for beekeeping because there is more floral diversity. It is important for both learners and well-established beekeepers to choose each apiary site judiciously.

Organic is not just an eco-friendly choice but a healthy way of life. We always hunt for organic goodness for our homes. Kashmir valley produces four varieties of organic honey due to vast diversity of floral species and favourable climatic conditions. A geographical indication (GI) is an indication or symbol used on goods having a specific geographical origin and possessing characteristics or a reputation owing to that origin. With the government aiming to get a geographical indication (GI) tag for ‘‘Kashmir honey,” the apiculture cultivation is a way forward to double farmer’s income by 2022 with the latest technological intervention. There are hotspots known to be favourites for honeybee tourism in Kashmir valley. Highest spatial honey production was found in Pulwama followed by Anantnag, Baramulla, Srinagar, and Kupwara. Around 70,000 honey bee colonies have come up in different regions of Kashmir valley. With time, more and more people are turning to bee-keeping as dozens of local honey brands have been established in Kashmir. The nectar collected by the bees from the meadows, orchards, forests, gardens is considered among the finest across the globe and fetches anywhere from ₹80,000 to 1 lakh per quintal. Moreover, Honeybees are best known for the honey they produce and their economic role in nature is to pollinate hundreds and thousands of flowering plants and assure setting of seed or fruit includes horticulture and agriculture crops.

Ruyida Mushtaq, Research Scholar, Department of Geography & Regional Development, University of Kashmir.

Dr. Binish Qadri, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Kashmir.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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