Nitul Bhuyan, an apiarist has combined agriculture and bee-keeping to enhance the livelihood of 128 erosion hit families in Sandahkhowa village in Assam’s Lakhimpur district.
Bhuyan who hails from the village had introduced this innovative technique about 12 years ago.
Bhuyan along with the help of locals has been cultivating mustard in a hundred hectares land for the past eight years.
This land remains inundated with flood waters for almost eight months in a year.
Combining mustard cultivation with bee-keeping, they have managed to increase their production by 20 per cent.
Six boxes of bees are kept with mustard plants in every bigha of land and one kg of honey is produced in one box in a week’s time.
“Bee-keeping and mustard cultivation complement each other”, said Nitul Bhuyan.
“We produce honey as well as mustard in an organic manner avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and plastic,” said Bhuyan.
“The pollination in mustard flowers by bees increases the production of the oilseeds by 20 per cent in every bigha of land besides producing honey,” said Maheshwar Mahanta, general secretary of the Pragati Production Farm and Marketing Organization, formed by these farmers.
“We sell the honey produced at Rs. 400 per kg and we are unable to cater to the huge demand for it at present,” said Mahanta.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, Khadi and Gramodyog department and Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) in North Lakhimpur have accorded Sandahkhowa with the status of a “bee village”.
The RARS also accorded Pragati Production Farm and Marketing Organization with the status of Farmers Producer Organization.
However, the farmers of this village are apprehensive of river Subansiri that has been fast eroding their agricultural lands every year.
The farmers said that if the erosion by the river continues unabated they would lose their mustard fields within a year and a half.
They have appealed to the Lakhimpur district forest department to rejuvenate the nearby Pabho Reserve Forest and create awareness among locals to protect the trees to stop erosion.