Honeybee farming has emerged as a new way out for educated unemployed youth in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to official data, there are 40,000 bee colonies in Kashmir. Beekeeping is a viable and attractive profession in J&K and is being practised on a large scale.
During the last few years, many educated youths are not only securing their financial future on the basis of this business but turning into job providers.
Shabbir Ahmed Ganai, an entrepreneur from Anantnag, is one such example who is eyeing to generate job opportunities by availing government schemes.
Ahmed opened 10 subsidized beehives from the Agriculture Department In Angan Astanpura. Besides, Department is giving training to Ahmed in beekeeping and today Shabir Ahmed is the owner of 309 colonies of bees.
“After completing my graduation, when I saw that unemployment was increasing, I thought of taking up my hobby further and after getting help from the Department of Agriculture, I turned my hobby into a business,” he said.
Shabbir Ahmed introduced his own brand “Nectar Natures” after which he also set up a honey processing unit in the year 2020. Today, Shabbir Ahmed is supplying his products to different parts of Kashmir valley.
Similarly, Altaf Ahmad Bhat from the Kupwara district of North Kashmir also started this business with the support of the department and today he is one of the largest honey producers in his area. Altaf Ahmad Bhat produces between 150 and 200 quintals of honey annually.
“My father was also involved in this profession and I also took the same option. I came to know that the Department of Agriculture was providing help. so I approached them and the result is in front of you,” he said.
It should be noted that more than 1900 farmers are involved in the honey business in the Kupwara district, out of which 408 are registered.
According to the Department of Agriculture, the business is booming in the Valley due to the increasing demand for honey in the domestic, national and international markets. The Department of Agriculture is providing subsidized beehives along with training and extension services to the farmers and the educated youth are reaping the benefits.
“The department has provided various schemes and subsidies for the farmers while also providing training to them when required,” officials said.
It is worth noting that Atul Dilu, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Agriculture Production recently revealed that the government will provide an e-marketing platform for beekeepers to sell their products. He also said that the GI tag for Kashmiri honey is also under consideration by the government and a proper plan is being prepared for it.
When these projects are implemented at the ground level, the honey business will likely develop in Kashmir. Farmers are hopeful that the government will start a new chapter by implementing all these projects as soon as possible.