Nadir Bakerwal leads the village of Gandhote towards a gentle revolution

Ramban is on the verge of a “soft” revolution through large-scale honey production by progressive farmers, aided and supported by the “Beekeeping Promotion” program and the “One District, One Product” program. sponsored by the government.
Starting out with just 5 honey bee colonies in 1990, Nadir Bakerwal, 85, had ventured into the honey bee trade in an effort to supplement his farming income in his village of Gandhote perched on a hilltop overlooking the National road.
Coming from far and wide, Nadir and his three sons own over 350 honey bee colonies and have inspired 40 other progressive farmers in his village who together own 5000 colonies. Almost all of these progressive farmers belong to Scheduled Tribal communities, including Gujjars and Bakerwals.
According to 45-year-old Mohammed Ashraf (son of Nadir), his family, including his two other brothers, Abdul Rashid and Nasir Ahmed, earn an annual income of 10 rupees. Lakh of beekeeping.
“We are happy with this activity which has now become the mainstay of our livelihood and my son, Mohammed Showkat, has also adopted it as a full-time activity. He too has 90 colonies,” he said.
According to him Nadir, father of six sons and three daughters owns 25 colonies; his sons Mr. Ashraf, Abdul Rashid and Nasir Ahmed own 90, 80 and 75 colonies respectively, while his grandson, Mohammed Showkat owns 90 colonies. In addition to increasing his colonies, he continued to give the bee colonies to other villagers for free and encouraged them to take this agriculture seriously despite all the obstacles.
He said his father showed a lot of perseverance and gradually built the business to this level through hard work and fighting against all odds. Initially, Nadir used to load and unload boxes from the bee colony himself to transport them to other places during seasonal migration.
Ashraf said that in 1990 his father, Nadir, was motivated by a teacher’s brother, GM Tantray of Banihal, to take up beekeeping and after seeing his beekeeping business in Banihal, he bought five colonies from him. and had thus started his beekeeping business.
“Although it (the beekeeping business) suffers occasional losses due to parasitic infection, climatic adversities, etc., it has now become a choice for many villagers in Ramban district thanks to the financial supports, materials and techniques provided by the Government through the Dept. of Apiculture..” With gradual success and increasing yields, we are greatly encouraged and grateful to the Apiculture Development Officer, Ramban, Ayaz Ahmed Reshi, who does not spares no effort to guide us and provide all information and assistance on this subject, throughout the year” he added.
According to Ashraf, some of his family members have been in Rajasthan with their bee colonies since November to feed their bees mustard flowers. “They will stay there until the end of January, then go to Pathankot in February for a month-long stay where the bees will feed on mustard flowers and Safeda (eucalyptus or poplar trees). On their return, they will stay in Jammu for the whole month of March and then migrate to the Kashmir valley where they will stay until August. They will return to Gandhote in September to feed their bees with Solai shrubs,” he explained, reflecting his extensive knowledge of the craft.
“The honey made by the bees after feeding on Solai is one of the best in the world which has several medicinal properties and sells like hot cakes at a very good price. Honey production has been included in the government’s One District, One Product scheme of Ramban district and Ramban is the producer of 70% of the honey produced in the entire province of Jammu.
The beekeepers extended their gratifications to Ramban Deputy Commissioner, Musarrat Islam, for taking the personal initiative to effect a hassle-free migration of their bee colonies to Rajasthan without wasting any time.
Solai honey, Acacia honey and Multi Floria honey are the three types of honey produced from Solai, Acacia (Kikkar) and multi flower in Ramban with Banihal tehsil leading in the district. Up to 35,000 hive colonies have been established in the district, which includes 450 leading beekeepers.
Thirty new beekeepers will be established in Batote Tehsil alone in 2022-23 which will boost the rural economy,” said Reshi, district who is now on a one-day tour to different parts of Rajasthan to help and guide beekeepers from Ramban district who are there with their bee colonies.
He informed that last year the total production of honey in Ramban district was around 6,000 qtl and this year the target is to produce 8,000 qtl and expressed confidence that if all beekeepers imitated Nadir and showed the determination and hard work of his level, that would definitely be achieved.
He said rewarding farmers like Nadir would go a long way to encouraging other farmers to achieve big farming goals.
He said that under the “promotion of beekeeping” program, 2 honey extraction machines were given to Nadir’s family and in the 11 machines to other farmers in the village in addition to beehives, bee colonies, comb foundation sheets and necessary medications.
He said that in a few days all these beekeepers who are all registered with the National Bee Board will be part of an Agricultural Producers Organization (FPO) in Ramban and once they are members they will be able to sell their honey to any part. of the world and would start getting a good price for their product.

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