Modern beekeeping key to Chepang makeoverAaita Ram Chepang, 41, of Raksirang rural municipality in Makwanpur, brought home Rs1.05 million this year by selling honey. His income levels have soared above his wildest expectations by adopting modern beekeeping technology.
Aaita Ram Chepang, 41, of Raksirang rural municipality in Makwanpur, brought home Rs1.05 million this year by selling honey. His income levels have soared above his wildest expectations by adopting modern beekeeping technology.
When he first started beekeeping, he reared local species of bee by digging a hole in the trunk of trees. But since last year, he has been rearing bees in modern beehives. He rears Mellifera species for honey. Chepang said he earned Rs500,000 by selling honey from 80 beehives last year.
Encouraged by higher honey yields, he had increased the number beehives to 150 and made an income of Rs1 million this year.
His improved financial status has allowed him to enrol his children in good schools and purchase a tractor worth Rs1.8 million.
Other villagers are following suit.
Most of the people of Silinge in Makwanpur have started rearing bees in modern hives. Now, more than 80 families are involved in commercial beekeeping. In Silinge, where majority of the population belong to the Chepang community, they are around 5,000 modern beehives.
Aaita Ram tops the list of owning the most number of modern beehives. Mellifera has become the first choice among beekeepers due to their higher productivity and the fact that they are easier to manage as compare to Cerana. Rearing of this imported crossbreed honeybees started between 1993-1995 in Nepal.
The Chepang community, who had been rearing Cerana in traditional beehives and selling 2-4 kg of honey annually, are now selling 50 to 1,700 kgs of honey.
This year, Ram sold 1,730 kgs of honey, said Nirmal Gadal, chief of District Agriculture Office.
“The Chepang community have started rearing bees in a commercial way,” said Gadal.
In the past, farmers from Chitwan, Hetauda and Sarlahi used to bring bees hives to Silinge to feed them with churi fruit. More than 3,000 beehives used to be brought to Silinge each year during November to March period. They used to earn Rs500,000 to Rs1.4 million yearly. The Chepang community used to work as porters to carry “churi honey” to Lothar.
Silinge locals adopted modern techniques after the Agricultural Development Office of Makwanpur provided skill-based training on beekeeping.
Now, the Chepang community are in the forefront of the bee industry. It has controlled the trend of bringing bees for rearing purpose in the village by the farmers from the outside districts. The consumer group of the community forest of Silinge has been charging Rs150 per hive brought from outside. In addition, the land owner charges Rs100. This year, only 7 beehives were brought.
“We have controlled the number of beehives that used to be brought from outside for rearing churi fruit,” said local resident Shiva Bahadur Chepang. “By next year, it will be prevented completely.”
Honey made from the juice of churi is of good quality and is also good for health. It is highly demanded in the market. Dinesh Chepang of Lothar, a honey trader, buys the local honey at Rs300 per kg. He sells them in Kathmandu at Rs320 per kg. “Due to the good quality churi honey is easily sold in the market. The demand has also soared manifold,” he said.