J&K Apiculture sector buzzes with anticipation of big boost to beekeeping: Govt official

Jammu, Jan 21 (PTI) Jammu and Kashmir Apiculture sector is eagerly awaiting the launch of a mega project, approved by the Union Territory administration, aimed at promoting apiculture with investment of Rs 47 crore in next three years.

The prestigious project is expected to significantly increase honey production in the Union Territory, a senior government official said on Saturday.

“Efforts are underway to introduce Apitherapy to a wider audience. The sector is projected to grow from its current annual output of Rs 69 crore to Rs 682 crore within five years, resulting in gainful employment for 8,122 persons and creation of 82 private sector enterprises,” Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture Production Department, Atal Dulloo said.

He said the project has been allocated a budget of Rs 46.65 crore with an avowed objective of increasing honey production three-fold, bee population by 333 per cent and crop production of cross-pollinated crops by 20-25 per cent.

“Beekeeping is an important source of income and livelihood for many rural youth, landless farmers, and small and medium- farmers in J&K. The honeybees not only produce honey but also play a crucial role in pollinating thousands of flowering plants, thereby contributing to food security”, he said.

Dulloo said the decline in pollinating bees poses a danger to the natural environment and agricultural sustainability, and the biodiversity of the Himalayan region can be restored through bee activity.

The “promotion of beekeeping in UT of J&K” project is one of 29 projects approved by the J&K administration and recommended by the UT Level Apex Committee for the holistic development of agriculture and allied sectors.

The major constraints faced by the beekeeping industry in J&K included degradation and deforestation, the use of pesticides, lack of infrastructure, lack of standard migration practices, traceability, and changes in the blooming patterns of crucial forage plants, Dulloo said.

He said the project aims at addressing these issues by increasing the number of colonies through cluster formation, encouraging bee-preneurship and bee-startups, besides developing infrastructure for post-harvest management, value addition, and marketing.

“After implementation of the project, the number of bee colonies is expected to increase from 1.43 lakh to 3.085 lakh, the number of beekeepers from 4,526 to 7,396, and honey production from 23,050 quintals to 66,100 quintals,” he said.

In addition to honey production, he said the income from bee by-products such as royal jelly, bee venom, pollen, and wax worth Rs 474 crore per annum will also be realised.

An amount of Rs 4.4 crore has been allocated for research and development, he said.

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