Chennai, February 17, 2012 (Thanks to Ms Sujana Krishnamoorthy, UTMT for the report): As announced in the 'Events Notices' column dated January 23, 2012 in this site, the UTMT (Under the Mango Tree, Mumbai) organized the country's first-ever National Bee Day on February 5, 2012 at the Maharashtra Nature Park, Dharavi, Mumbai. Originall conceived as 'Cerana Day' the celebration of the event was later renamed, more appropriately as 'National Bee Day'. The event elicited enthusiastic response from public including children and was a grand success. Following is a report on the event sent in by UTMT's Sujana Krishnamoorthy, Event Organizer and Programme Leader, UTMT. She also kindly provided the photographs of the event.
UNDER THE MANGO TREE, 54 Naju Mansion, Wodehouse Road, Opposite Naval Transport Camp, Colaba, Mumbai 400005
National Bee Day: A Celebration of Bees!
The event was well attended with almost 300 participants creating a buzz at Maharashtra Nature Park.
The Bee Walks were particularly a hit among the children. The were fascinated to learn about worker bees, the queen bee, watching bees fly in and out of bee boxes some carrying pollen, learning about pollination and how bees are responsible for most of the fruits and vegetables we eat. As one parent explained, "No biology class would have taught the children so well about bees".
The impact was there to see in some of the really thoughtful drawings the children made in the Painting Competition that followed.
Release of Study and Panel Discussion
Since 2009, UTMT has piloted the Bees for Poverty Reduction (BPR) programme among tribal farmers in south Gujarat and Maharashtra. This programme works exclusively with the indigenous Apis cerana indica and is effort to harness the natural potential of bees as pollinators to increase agricultural productivity.
As a part of the National Bee Day celebrations, the findings of the study "Role of Beekeeping with Apis ceran-a in Crop Production" was released by Mrs Usha Thorat, former Deputy Governor Reserve Bank of India, and presently Director, CAFRAL (Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning, Mumbai - established by the Reserve Bank of India).
Hemant Tripathi, the researcher of the study shared the methodology and main findings of the study. The study showed a substantial increase in most of the local crops grown by farmers: niger, chickpea, flat beans, papaya, mango and cashew, to name a few, by at least 30 to per cent.
The presentation was followed by a Panel Discussion on the findings which was moderated by Vikram Doctor of the Economic Times. The panelists were Dr. Daisy Thomas, Assistant Director, Central Bee Research and Training Institute, Pune, Mr. CK Gopalakrishna,CGM, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Avinash Kubal, Deputy Director, Maharashtra Nature Park society, Mr. Atar Singh Kaintura, UTMT Technical Expert, and Mrs Vijaya Pastala, President, UTMT.
Dr. Thomas pointed out that for non-migratory beekeeping and from a small farmer's perspective, the indigenous bee was a much better option. Mr. Gopalakrishna mentioned that the livelihood potential of small-scale beekeeping for agriculture and especially for the landless, was immense, particularly in areas like the North-East. Mr. Kubal said that local varieties of bees have an important role to play in conserving local flora and biodiversity. Mr. Atar Singh mentioned in this context that in the areas of UTMT's work, honey hunting was the norm earlier. Now it had been replaced with sustainable beekeeping. He also made the point that there had been an increase in local population of bees due to beekeeping, which has lead to better pollination of local crops.
Mrs. Thorat, in her concluding remarks, pointed out that one of India's biggest problems was low agricultural productivity. If beekeeping was showing such good results, then it had huge economic value and was worth pursuing from just this angle.
Cooking with Honey
The other big draw was the much looked forward to "Cooking with Honey". The event showcased how different kinds of honey could be used in starters, main dishes, and desserts. Chef Rajeev Basak, Executive Chef, Bangalow 9, and Chef Rajat Nagpal, MasterChef India, demonstrated a bruschetta with rajma, a cheese based starter and a dessert, all using honey.
The Photo Exhibition on bees also won a lot of appreciation. There was also a "Honey Tasting" stall and a booth, where children and adults could dress up as bees and have their photos taken. The 'Question and Answer' session with urban beekeepers saw a lot of questions being posed on apprehensions regarding beekeeping, 'is beekeeping possible in cities', among others.
All in all, the National Bee Day celebrations went off well and hopefully the event is a precursor to such events in the years to come in many more cities!