The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is working towards training tribals in the Kodaikanal region in bee-keeping in view of the immense potential for marketing honey products at such tourist hotspots.
With thousands of tourists visiting these places, Kodaikanal offered a ready-made market for these products, doing away with the need for a separate marketing campaign, M.T. Wakode, Divisional Director of Madurai Division, KVIC, told The Hindu here on Thursday.
Kodaikanal is located in Dindigul district, one among the 10 southern districts that come under the Madurai division of KVIC.
“The hilly regions are very famous for such natural products. Honey-making societies in the Mahabaleshwar hill station of Maharashtra have a turnover of crores of rupees and sell such huge volumes that they are unable to meet the demand for honey from local production,” he said.
To help locals take to bee-keeping, KVIC officials held a week-long training programme at Kodaikanal in which 100 people, including tribals, housewives, and local entrepreneurs, were trained in five batches. All the beneficiaries were given the requisite equipment for bee-keeping such as a bee box with a bee colony, honey extractor, smoker and bee knife.
The KVIC's efforts do not stop at training, as officials want to rope in at least some of the trainees for the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP). “This scheme offers 35 per cent subsidy and we will arrange for loans for rest of the project cost. If successful, they can repay the loan amount even within one year,” opined Mr. Wakode.
KVIC wants the trainees to take up large scale commercial bee-keeping through such schemes. The training programme was sponsored by the district administration of Dindigul, which routed the funds to the Central Palm Gur and Palm Products Institute of KVIC at Chennai. A local NGO, the Centre for Human and Natural Resource Development, coordinated the programme.