Expanding the Boundaries of the North-East Honey Industry: Stakeholder Conference Fuels Collaborative Vision for Apiculture Advancement in Meghalaya
The Stakeholder Conference on Promoting Apiculture in the North-Eastern Region, held over two days, witnessed the esteemed presence of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri Conrad K. Sangma, alongside other eminent dignitaries, academics, and experts in the field of beekeeping and agriculture, such as B.K. Sohliya, Executive Adviser, Meghalaya Farmers’ Empowerment Commission (MFEC), Dr. Ashish Lele, Director, CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Dr. Arun Kumar Sarma, Director General, North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR), Shri. K.N. Kumar, Chairman, Meghalaya Farmers’ Empowerment Commission (MFEC), and Dr. Avinash Chauhan.
One of the highlights of the conference was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between MFEC and NECTAR, which aims to foster collaboration and mutual support in the advancement of apiculture in the state. This will lead to the further development of innovative techniques and practices in apiculture. This collaboration will also create opportunities for capacity building and skill enhancement among the farmers in Meghalaya.
Speaking on the occasion, Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Conrad K. Sangma acknowledged the significance of apiculture in Meghalaya’s agricultural landscape and remarked, “I would like to commend the Meghalaya Farmers’ Empowerment Commission for its extraordinary efforts to promote apiculture in the state. Such a large-scale conference of stakeholders is unprecedented in the Northeast, where we are joined by experts ranging from scientists to farmers and entrepreneurs, all of whom are actively contributing to the collective commitment towards harnessing the potential of this industry.”
The Chief Minister recalled the success story of the “Lakadong Mission,” initiated by the government in its first term, which played a pivotal role in promoting and marketing the indigenous spice, Lakadong turmeric, whose production has increased by 15 times, using new technologies, is generating employment for women led self-help groups and boosting the local economy. He added, “Meghalaya’s strategy will be to develop niche products with domestic and international demand. By providing the right training and resources to local beekeepers, the government hopes to not only boost the income of rural communities but also reshape the industry through a scientific and technology driven approach. Through the signing of the MOU today, we will be able to form partnerships with major players such as NECTAR, which will benefit our farmers. The government recognises that beekeeping is still an untapped sector that is about to receive significant investments and manpower so that the target of 1 lakh Meghalayan farmers can add apiculture to their agricultural practises.”
The government of Meghalaya has allocated a substantial investment of Rs 54 crores to the apiculture project, and identified 48 clusters spread across the state, ensuring that the benefits of apiculture reach various regions and communities. This initiative is set to impact the lives of 5,000 beneficiaries. Each beneficiary will receive financial assistance of Rs 70,000, enabling them to venture into apiculture and enhance their livelihoods significantly. Moreover, the establishment of the Integrated Bee Development Centre in Sambrak, North Garo Hills, will serve as a pivotal resource hub to support beekeeping activities and foster the growth of the industry. To add value to the honey produced and create local processing opportunities, the project aims to set up 10 cluster-level honey processing units, directly benefiting 4,000 beneficiaries, empowering them as entrepreneurs. In order to support overall bee population growth, the project is distributing 20,200 beehive boxes among the beekeepers. Furthermore, the government is conducting a total of 55 training sessions in batches, imparting essential knowledge and skills to beekeepers to effectively manage their apiculture ventures.
Dr. Arun Kumar Sarma, Director General of the Northeast Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR), articulated his vision of harnessing modern advancements in beekeeping methodologies and remarked, “Through our collaboration with the Meghalaya Farmers’ Empowerment Commission, our aim will be to introduce cutting-edge techniques that will not only empower the farmers of Meghalaya but also create avenues for skill development and capacity building. Together, we can unlock the full potential of apiculture and chart a sustainable future for the industry.”