Beekeeping in Rukum: Some stings attachedBeekeeper Om Prakash Khadka of Pokhara, Rukum takes home Rs460,000 annually by selling honey and bee colonies.
Beekeeper Om Prakash Khadka of Pokhara, Rukum takes home Rs460,000 annually by selling honey and bee colonies.
The 36-year-old farmer adopted beekeeping as a full-time occupation a decade ago. After five years of hard work, he has become a highly successful entrepreneur in the district.
He produces up to four quintals of honey valued at Rs340,000 yearly. In addition, he sells bee colonies worth Rs120,000. Khadka, who now owns 100 bee colonies, has expects to earn Rs500,000 this year.
“Ten years ago when I started beekeeping, most people in my village did not believe me.” But now he is the model of a successful entrepreneur in the district. In the last fiscal year, he received the President’s Outstanding Farmers Award in the district.
Khadka is not alone. Kamlal Khadka, a 27-year-old farmer in Pokhara, started with just 18 bee colonies a year ago. Now he has 45 colonies.
“I completed my Plus Two level and started working as a full-time beekeeper,” he said. Last year, he earned Rs100,000. “It’s providing me a good income as I had expected it would.”
Apiculture has emerged as a big source of income and employment in the remote mountainous areas in the Mid-Western Region, particularly among young people.
Another farmer Pratap Nakal in Garayala has been engaged in beekeeping for the last seven years.
He earns his living from beekeeping and also pays his children’s school fees with the income.
“Beekeeping is relatively easy as compared to other types of farming. It has been giving me a good income,” he said.
According to the District Agriculture Office, there are 3,800 bee colonies in the district. Sahadev Prasad Humagain, a senior district agriculture officer, said that commercial beekeeping had been attracting young people in the district due to the good returns. He added that the government had been encouraging young farmers to take up beekeeping by providing beehives.
Under the youth-focused programme, the District Agriculture Office has provided Rs200,000 each to 40 farmers in six village development committees in the district.
Commercial beekeeping has thrived in Pokhara, Pipal, Bafikot, Syalapakha, Aathbiskot and Garayala.
Last year, the district produced 11 tonnes of honey, and the output is expected to increase to 19 tonnes this year, said Humagain. “Among the farmers involved in beekeeping, half are young people.” Nepal currently produces 1,700 tonnes of honey against the potential to harvest at least 35,000 tonnes annually.
The revised Nepal Trade Integration Strategy 2016 has also listed honey among the 12 major exportable items, but the policy to encourage producers has not been so effective.
Many traders have started branding and packaging their products. Nepal Honey, Himalayan Honey, Gandaki Honey, Gorkha Honey, Namaste Honey, Shakti and Himali Honey are some of the Nepali brands that have been competing with Indian brands like Dabur and Patanjali Honey.