An aggrieved beekeeper P Henry from Kottoor village of Thiruvattar block said nearly one lakh beehive boxes placed on farms in these taluks were swept away by the floods killing innumerable honeybees.
Even before, many could not extract enough honey during seasonal days in April and May owing to unseasonal rains. Now the rain induced floods during north east monsoon added yet another misery to the beekeepers. The devastating effect has severely impacted the livelihoods of nearly 50,000 persons, including beekeepers and labourers in the industry.
“It incurs an expenditure of Rs 1, 600 to Rs 2,000 to place a honey collection box. About three kg of natural honey could be extracted from a box with around 40,000 bees in place. Average annual amount of honey produced in hives is around one lakh tonnes in the district,” Henry told DT Next on Sunday.
Moreover, the profit of the beekeepers was further threatened as the honey extracted from combs was not even reasonably priced as a kg was procured at a pittance of Rs 130 or Rs 140 by the Marthandam Beekeepers Cooperative Society.
While the average annual honey production is one lakh tonnes, the society procures only three lakh tonnes a year. On the other hand, Kanniyakumari beekeepers have been mostly relying on Kerala, where Khadi Board in Thiruvanathapuram determines the price, as honey produced had to be taken to the neighboring state to market it.
Citing these issues, Henry said the beekeepers want to develop suitable strategies to defend their livelihoods and hence the state government should procure honey directly from the beekeepers at a minimum support price.
S Mathias from Kanjampuram said 60 boxes were lost in the recent floods, but he lost even more during Cyclone Ockhi in 2017 when 250 boxes disappeared. But, there’s no compensation at all, he rued.
According to sources from the Department of Horticulture, National Bee Board recently launched ‘Madhukranti’ portal to account for the affected bee farmers and provide them adequate insurance compensation. So far, seven farmers have enrolled in the portal. The registration process is being channelised to help the beekeepers.