Honey hunters benefiting from Rajshahi mustard farming

BSS . Rajshahi | Update:

More than 250 tonnes of honey were produced in Rajshahi region during the current season making growers hopeful of getting a good earning.

This amount is five times higher than that of last year, said sources at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Rajshahi.

Farmers of Rajshahi, Naogaon, Natore and Chapainawabganj districts had been engaged in honey extraction since mid-November, said Fazlur Rahman, additional director of DAE. Due to favourable weather, the number of farmers increased this year to 250 from 75 in the region and other districts last year, he said.

Farmers set up 7,500 bee-colonies near mustard fields in different villages where there was good flowering, and got around 80 kg of honey from each colony in two weeks, the growers said.

The farmers said they were able to sell one-third of the honey to local people and wholesalers at around Tk 150 per kilogram, and are waiting for business companies to buy the rest.

"We will be able to make a good profit if the companies buy our honey for Tk 150 to Tk 200 per kg," the growers said.

"I got 35 maunds of honey from my 63 bee-colonies in Borobilla area under Paba upazila. I sold twelve maunds to locals. Now I am waiting to sell the rest to a company at a good price," said Habibur Rahman Babu, a farmer in Darusha village under the same upazila.

A number of growers said the same, adding that they have to spend about 50 per cent of the earning to meet the cost during extraction and for feeding the bees during the off-season.

Deputy director of DAE Dev Dulal Dhali said mustard was cultivated on around 30,000 hectares of land in the district, and there was good growth of the crop due to favourable weather.

As a result, honey farmers were encouraged to set their bee-colonies beside mustard fields across the district and were able to collect a large amount of honey, he added.

"We are motivating honey growers and crop farmers to increase cultivation of mustard as honeybees help increasing the output by more than 20 per cent to 25 per cent through pollination," he added.

Bidhan Chandra Das of Zoology department of Rajshahi University told BSS that honey farmers need technological support, financial assistance and a sound of marketing system.

"It's possible to make the honey farming a million-dollar business for the country, creating huge jobs," he said.

Bidhan Das said Bangladesh can even export queen bees, candle and gum which will further contribute to the export. In Europe, each queen bee is sold at 50 euro.

He said many unemployed people can be involved in honeybee farming and the marketing process of honey, which will ultimately help reduce poverty apart from giving a boost to the country's export earnings.

"If the government takes proper steps, honey production will get a boost in the country, ushering in a new opportunity for export," said Das adding Bangladesh can produce two lakh tonnes of honey a year.

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