ERODE: Ten years ago, Gobi-based woman Manjula Parthiban fell in love with the art of beekeeping. What started off as a hobby eventually developed into a large-scale business, with Rs 20 lakh annual turnover. Her interest in apiculture furthered after she started experimenting with honey to create a range of 32 value-added products under the banner ‘Manjari Honey’. In 2019, she became the first woman to be certified by the National Bee Board. Since then, there is no turning back for Manjula, who encourages farmers and youngsters to take up beekeeping to tide over the crisis during the lockdown.
Narrating her journey to TNIE, Manjula says that her entrepreneurial journey was kick-started by her husband. “Having no formal education is seen as a disadvantage. But, in my case, Parthiban understood my interest in agriculture-related activities and introduced me to beekeeping. Initially, I started honey production for meeting the household needs. In no time, it had a high demand from across the country. When I had surplus honey, I made healthy delicacies which were well received and appreciated by my family members. Eager to learn more, I signed up for apiculture training at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore.”
Asked whether her business was affected during the lockdown, Manjula said that the pandemic has not hindered her work in any way. “Even now, patrons of Majari Honey from across the country and some non-resident Indians do place bulk orders,” she adds.
On being recognised by the National Bee Board, she explains, “In November 2o19, I was certified for rearing honey from 300 hive boxes with ten frames each. This certification, which is provided after reviewing the beekeeper’s data, is valid for five years from the date of issue.”
The 42-year-old woman currently has around 500 beehives. “While some of them are in her farmland at Gobichettipalayam, others are at my friend’s rubber plantation site in Palakkad. While one kg of pure honey is sold at Rs 550, the value-added products are sold up to Rs 1,200. This way, I have an income of Rs 20 lakh per annum,” Manjula adds.
Stating that there is a huge demand for organic honey, she wants more farmers and youngsters to take up this profitable occupation. “I visit several colleges and encourage students to take up beekeeping by conducting training sessions. I also motivate farmers in my locality to do the same,” she says.