Jeevan Rekha Parishad (JRP) - our partner based in Odisha State on the north-east coast of India, with support from the UK Dept. for International Development – has been working for the last two years with 300 Tribal women in ten villages to produce honey.
Traditionally these women and their menfolk collected honey from wild forest bees. They would sell this unfiltered honey in unsterilized plastic bottles by the roadside in the hope of making a few meagre rupees.
Today the women are formed into Self-Help Groups which collect honey from the apis mellifera bee which produces it honey in wooden bee boxes made by village youths. Together the women pool, filter, package and label the honey ready for sale in their village as well as in the local market and in other retail outlets.
For the first time, women are now able to generate an income, bank a percentage of their profits and use the balance as household income. As a result, food consumption and family health has improved, many more children attend school and the women have gained confidence and now contribute more to family and village decision-making.
The 300 women beekeepers also hold an annual Honey Fair – having now formed a Women’s Beekeeping Association – to market their honey and promote its use: it soothes sore throats, coughs and colds; and it is used in the Hindu Pūjā, a prayer ritual performed to host, honour and worship one or more deities, or to spiritually celebrate an event. It is also used in cooking and as a food.
Since the apis mellifera bee has been introduced into their villages, the women and the local farmers have discovered that the amount and quality of their vegetables and crops like mustard and maize have improved enormously. These villagers know better than anyone that – without the precious bee in our lives – essential vegetables and food crops would no longer be possible.
We at Jeevika now invite you to help us Celebrate Bees, their golden Honey and the New Year by making yourself a Strawberry Granola Parfait!
- Slice a few strawberries (or banana, mango or other seasonal fruit) and mix with a little orange juice.
- Take a few tablespoons of low fat yoghurt (or curd, as it is known in India) and mix with two teaspoons of honey (or more if you want it sweeter).
- Break a few bars of Granola into small chunks.
- Arrange alternate layers of fruit, yoghurt & honey, and granola chunks in a tall glass.
- Chill in the refrigerator. Enjoy! Celebrate!!
To help JRP continue to enable Tribal women villagers to become self-sufficient beekeepers please go to