As the government is intensifying lockdown, beekeeping has been badly affected in the State and farmers involved in beekeeping urge the government’s intervention to rescue them.
Tamil Nadu was once the leader in beekeeping and Kanniyakumari district contributed the maximum share of honey from the State. Even today more than 50,000 families are involved in beekeeping and one of the successful honey societies, Marthandam Beekeepers Cooperative Society, which is administered by the State government is present in Kanniyakumari district.
In the last three years, beekeepers had been suffering from various issues including a fungus attack, which turned the beehives into black colour and destroyed them completely. When farmers expected 2020 to be a better year for them, COVID-19 pandemic has made their situation bleak as there are no takers for honey.
“In the previous years, beekeepers who were into beekeeping were left with only 60 to 80 percentage of the beekeeping boxes and they managed to get at least the invested amount back but this year the honey could not be sold which has left us without money to invest in beekeeping for the next year,” said Henry.
Beekeeping is a yearlong process where farmers culture the bees inside boxes and feed them with sugar water round the year to harvest them. The harvest season in Kanniyakumari is around March and April but as due to the lockdown, the farmers could not sell the honey even though they have harvested successfully.
“Kanniyakumari honey is much-sought-after in states like Kerala, Karnataka and Goa and every year farmers from Kanniyakumari travel all the way to these states to sell honey. Due to COVID-19 restrictions farmers could not travel resulting in drying up of revenue for farmers”, said Wilson, a beekeeper from Marthandam.
Wilson also said that only if government procures all the honey and sells them through the cooperative unions farmers will get income for the year. Similarly, the state government should arrange interest free loans to beekeepers for help them continue their business next year.