The Inauguration Function of the Three-Day “Training Programme on Honeybee Keeping and Beehive Making”, which was organized by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), Apunba Imagi Machasing (AIMS) and Yang Honey Promotion Society (YHPS), was held at the Community Hall of the Khamasom Walely Village, Ukhrul District, Manipur on Monday, the 11th April, 2022. Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State, External Affairs & Education, Dr. Homen Thangjam, faculty of Indira Gandhi National Tribal Univerty, Mr. Kamesh Salam, Executive Director, South Asia Bamboo Foundation, Shri Judgeson Kasomwoshi, Chairman, Khamasom Walely Village Authority, Shri K. Vareiyo, President, YHPS and Shri. M. Khelendro Singh, President, AIMS, graced the function as the Chief Guest and Guests of Honours, respectively. Shri Teruaki Watanabe was the Special Guest. And Dr. I. Meghachandra Singh, Joint Director, ICAR, Lamphelpat, Manipur presided the function. The function was a fusion of virtual and off-line one in which various stakeholders from different parts of the world and the Walely villagers participated.
Shri Judgeson Kasomwoshi, as the host of the programme, warmly welcomed the participants. He wished a bright future for the villagers, which he believed the participants would have learned hands-on during the training and adopt the best practices in the future for a suitable pattern of development for the village.
In his virtual message to the gathering, Dr. Ranjan Singh fondly recalled his visit to the village in 2021 in which he declared Khamasom Walely the “Honeybee Village of Manipur”. He further recollected the memoirs of the function in which he emphasized the need of popularizing the Walely honey through instilling up-to-dated technology in collaboration with ICAR (KVK Ukhrul). He shared that a review of the progress of the venture was the need of the hour to gauge if there has been popular participation by the villagers and how far the mission has progressed. He also appraised how certain members of the Indian Parliament were taking keen interest in promoting organic honey as a source of livelihood means for the rural population of India. For example, he cited how Shri Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Union Minister of Road and Transport, had been pushing forward the necessity of applying modern scientific technology for improving the livelihood avenues of rural India. He emphasized that such initiative can certainly improve the villagers in Manipur. And according to him, beekeeping and honey production provide such an alternative livelihood chances.
Shri Kamesh Salam focused on the need for producing organic honey for sustainable economy through the use of bamboo beehive boxes. According to him, bamboo grows aplenty in Ukhrul district and if the villagers upgrade their craftsmanship in making bamboo bee boxes, this could be another means of earning livelihood income. He further emphasized that Khamasom Walely could enter into collaboration with the National Bee Board of India to have testing centres for organic honey, thereby not only expanding the scope of honey production but also make the village a site of tourist attraction. He wished the village to be the Model Bee Village of India just as Dr. Ranjan had envisioned.
Shri Khelendro Singh representing AIMS stated that many precious natural wealth is lost on account human mis-direction and instantaneous greed. He cited the example of mass poppy plantation in several hill villages which is driven by the phenomenon of “easy money”. He cautioned that such ventures in the long run would destroy the natural ecology and lives of the future generation. In such a situation, he shared that looking for alternative livelihood means, which had been practiced by our forefathers infused with modern scientific technology, perhaps, could bring about sustainable development. As such beekeeping is one alternative in which even the womenfolk can participate equally with their male counterparts.
Dr. Homen Thangjam also emphasized on eco-friendly sustainable development. According to him, there would be no food, fruits and seeds without bees, which are the primary agents of pollination. He added that beekeeping can be a sustainable means of earning livelihood and with more efforts and dedication can become a professional occupation thereby increasing the wealth of the village.
Shri Teruaki Watanabe in his brief address as the Special Guest emphasized on producing organic honey, which carries the potential of being a rich food as well as medicine. He recommended setting up honey testing centre in the village. He sincerely wished that villagers across the hills of Manipur would refrain from poppy cultivation and take up beekeeping. He also expressed his willingness to import honey from Walely to Japan and provide assistance in quality production processes.
K. Vareiyo expressed that for centuries the Tangkhuls of Khamasom had practiced the art of beekeeping. According to him the old generation could positively exploit the conducive environment for bee culture including the natural vegetation, geographical terrain and the climatic condition. Further, honey was widely used for health and medicinal purposes and as an economic enhancer. However, the young generation had abandoned the valuable practice for reasons best known to them. He stressed that beekeeping and associated practices like bee box making still carries the potential of uplifting the economic condition of the village. For him, it is a matter of persistence and dedication.
In his online presidential address Dr. I. Meghachandra stressed on the need to investigate into the prospects of transforming honey production to village industry by applying modern technology. However, to bring about this kind of radical transformation Government support is immensely needed. He also focused on a holistic approach in which tree plantation and floriculture could augment the aspiration of the people for prosperity and sustainable development. Finally, he congratulated AIMS, KVK and YSPS for organizing the training programme in his physical absence.
While proposing the vote of thanks, Shri N. Ratan emphasized on the sincerity and integrity of Walely villagers to make the village a destination of eco-tourism and work towards making honey the precious village product of Khamasom Walely. He earnestly thanked all the participants, trainers and sponsor of the programme.
Indian Council for Agricultural Research, Apunba Imagi Machasing and Yang Honey Promotion Society