IDUKKI: Marayoor in Kerala was already known for its ‘Marayoor Jaggery’, produced traditionally by farmers here. Now, the region is gaining more attention for the zingy, aromatic wild honey collected by the tribals inhabiting the forest ranges here. To boost tribal products, the Forests Department has joined hands with the Forest Protection Committee for the task of bringing the honey — known for its high nutritional content — collected by the tribals into the market, ending the ongoing practice of middlemen procuring the honey from tribals for a paltry amount.
“The tribal people cannot travel and place their produce in big markets beyond the local shandy. Since they were also reluctant to return home with unsold goods, they used to get short-changed for the honey they collected after strenuous efforts. Hence, we felt integrating farmers into the market system will certainly help them overcome their inhibitions in interacting with the outside world and enable them to improve economically,” said George Neriyamparambil, Range Officer, Marayoor.
He said the wild honey collected from the forest was said to have extraordinary medicinal properties. “Ayurveda and Siddha medicines use only raw honey as beneficial enzymes are retained in it. Tribals give their children raw siruthen made by small dammer bees collected in summer before the monsoon sets in,” he said.
“However, lack of knowledge regarding the scientific collection, processing and value addition of the honey was a problem in marketing. So, an initiative to collect honey scientifically and process it in hygienic conditions was taken up. The Marayoor Sandalwood division jointly with the Krishi Vigyan Kendra here took up the task of imparting scientific knowledge of honey processing,” George said.
A team comprising 35 tribals were trained on scientific collection of honey, thus ensuring an alternative employment for them as well. “The honey collected by them is processed and made into value-added products by mixing other forest produce such as wild kanthari mulaku (bird’s eye chilli), wild ginger and wild gooseberries. The products collected by tribes and sold through Ecoshops located across Marayoor are so popular that some are in short supply. The activities empowered the tribes to a great extent,” George said.
The products are kept for sale from this week at the tribes market set up by the Forests Department in Marayoor. The officer said the department also has plans to make beauty products from the bee wax by mixing it with coconut oil, and sell it via Ecoshops.
Not just the honey
The products collected by tribes are sold through Ecoshops across Marayoor. They have gained immense popularity
Value-added products using the honey are made by mixing wild kanthari mulaku (red chilli), wild ginger and wild gooseberries with the honey
Plan on to make beauty products from bee wax by mixing it with coconut oil