Since he found a mention in the Prime Minister’s recent Mann ki Baat episode, Nimit Singh’s phones have not stopped ringing.
While talking about The National Beekeeping and Honey Mission, the PM mentioned how Singh, through his venture ‘Madhumakhiwala’, is not only promoting apiculture as a means of livelihood, but also empowering bee farmers by engaging them in his company.
An engineer, Singh took up bee keeping on the advice of his father. Before that, he roamed around all over India to study farming methods and developed a keen interest in apiculture.
In 2013, he set up Madhumakhiwala in Lucknow to manufacture organic honey. However, the path was bumpy in the beginning. He could not sell much honey in the first two years and decided to separate the manufacturing and marketing aspects of the business.
“After the initial hiccups, I decided to engage bee farmers from various states in our venture. We provided them the bee boxes and everything else required to manufacture honey. After that, the honey is brought to our factory in Barabanki to be filtered and packaged. Today, 500 bee farmers from different states collaborate with us to produce the best-quality honey,” Singh told News18.
As experienced farmers with many years in the field were hesitant to work with a young company, Singh recruited new bee keepers and trained them on how to manufacture honey.
“We made it a rule that the farmer has to sell a portion of his produce. For example, if a farmer produces 100 jars of honey, he has to sell 20 of them. This ensures that he makes top-quality honey as he has to sell it himself,” said the entrepreneur.
Singh’s story comes out at a time when the Centre has approved a new scheme titled “National Beekeeping & Honey Mission (NBHM)” for 2 years for overall promotion and development of scientific beekeeping. The aim is to achieve “Sweet Revolution” in the country by giving thrust to capacity building and trainings in the field of apiculture.
The entrepreneur’s biggest achievement came when he, in collaboration with the district administration and NGOs, engaged families in Chainpurwa village in making beewax earthen lamps. Earlier, the primary source of livelihood for these villagers was brewing illicit liquour. Many families were adversely affected by the business.
District Police of Barabanki, in association with NGOs and entrepreneurs started ‘Mission Kayakalp’ for the transformation of villagers’ lives and creation of livelihoods. A good number of women and young adults made bee wax diyas. “This village is surrounded by a stream and that is why, villagers found it difficult to sell any kind of produce outside. We started delivering all raw materials for making diyas to them and would then pick up the finished products. Most of the families do not brew illicit liquor now,” shared the honey manufacturer.
Eventually, Madhumakhiwala engaged women from nearby villages to pack their products too. Youths from these families were trained in marketing the products. During their first Diwali, they sold around 12 lakh beewax diyas in Lucknow. “As they were themselves making these diyas, they knew that they would receive more orders if they sold more. That is why, they put their heart and soul in selling the products.”
In the past nine years of existence, the company has bagged several awards. It received the State Award by Government of Uttar Pradesh and also the District Award for Beekeeping.
“One of my main concerns has been the conservation of honey bees. The day the last honey bee dies, this earth will cease to exist. So we take extra care to not kill the bees by using improper methods of honey extraction. The extractor we use separates the honey from the hive, while keeping the insects and larvae alive. They grow up and produce honey again, while pollinating thousands of flowers,” Singh said.
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