International Rural Women’s Day recognizes their silent contribution to the world’s food systems with the theme “Rural women tackling the global cost of living crisis”.
By supporting beekeeping, training, hives and women’s self-help group (SHG) and equipping youth with life skills, DCB Bank hopes to create sustainable livelihood opportunities in the mangrove landscape. DCB Bank is partnering with rural communities to promote a coastal ecosystem-based livelihood project through beekeeping for women and youth living near mangroves in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district.
The beekeeping project is ongoing in six villages of the district with the aim of creating an alternative livelihood stream for the local communities. Life skills will provide long-term earning opportunities to women and youth. Women, especially those living in rural areas, make a silent but significant contribution to the well-being of their families and society.
Honeybees help with pollination, adding to the myriad biodiversity of flies, butterflies, birds, and other forms of pollination that keep fruit and food production thriving on Earth. Native bee species of India are well suited to the dual role of increasing fruit, agricultural productivity and providing honey, pollen, beeswax to beekeepers. Beekeepers provide a safe haven for bees away from depression. A symbiotic relationship that will positively impact conservation and biodiversity in the region. Beekeeping will also greatly reduce the local population’s dependence on mangrove cutting, the depletion of which is a concern. Bees feed on mangrove flora or flowers. It is a means of achieving balance in coexistence for humans and mangrove forests.
DCB Bank organized 200 bee boxes and healthy bee families in the first phase of the project. On the ground, teams worked to inform, educate and mobilize communities to volunteer for training. The bank supports 190 women and 10 youth from 15 self-help groups with bee boxes and bee colonies. Together with 50 other young people, they will be trained in beekeeping. Each beehive can produce up to 10 kilograms of honey per year, and if things go as planned next year 2023, beneficiaries will have about 2,000 kilograms of honey. The expectation regarding the price of honey is six hundred rupees per kilo. The beneficiary groups will also receive three honey extractors for hygienic extraction of high quality honey.
Participants will be guided to sell their products in the market. The project will directly benefit five hundred families, 75% of which are women, enabling them to achieve financial independence, contribute to family income and play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity in the area. This sustainable rural livelihood enterprise enables beneficiaries to practice beekeeping close to where they live while continuing their daily activities.
One of the activities of beekeeping involves the creation of bee colonies. Ensuring hygienic bee colonies are essential to the success of a sustainable enterprise, and the project includes acquiring and housing disease-free colonies of bee colonies. Apis cerana indicaa subspecies of the Asian honey bee known for its highly social behavior.
In addition to the participating women and youth, around 260 people who are part of farmer producer organizations (FPOs) and will be involved in the preparation of bee boxes and marketing of honey will also directly benefit from the project.
Gaurav Mehta, Head of PR, Marketing and CSR, DCB Bank had this to say: “DCB Bank focuses on rural communities and their welfare. This project has three objectives – rural entrepreneurship, sustainable livelihoods and climate change resilience. DCB Bank’s corporate social responsibility initiatives partner with local communities to protect groundwater resources, enhance biodiversity and support sustainable livelihoods.
Using bees as a nature-based solution – bees as pollinators and income sources, mangroves as bee flora – raises awareness of the impact of climate change on coastal communities. Uttara Kannada has the potential to create a unique space in the country with mangrove honey and give women a chance to increase their income and improve their quality of life. DCB Bank is confident that this initiative will protect biodiversity, increase crop production and promote forest regeneration, which is in line with our community development approach and outreach programs.”
The crucial role of women in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural living conditions and general well-being has never been in doubt. Women constitute a significant part of the agricultural labor force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work in households. They make important contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and climate resilience.