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Vivek Khalokar chose his calling after being impressed with beekeepers who came all the way from Haryana to extract honey from the hives at Amravati district's Shingnapur village, 600 km from Mumbai. "They had over 2,000 bee colonies and used to extract 80 quintals," says Vivek, a BSc in biology who went on to pursue a diploma in beekeeping at Pune's Central Bee Research and Training Institute.
Encouraged by CBRTI director M T Wakode, Vivek, 28, applied for a credit-linked subsidy scheme under the Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme. The scheme is implemented in rural areas by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission and the Khadi and Village Industries Board. Vivek was sanctioned Rs 10 lakh.
Within a year of beekeeping, he increased the number of bee colonies from 100 to 500 and got returns of Rs 10 lakh. "This year we extracted 2.5 tonnes of lychee honey and 1.5 tonnes of sunflower honey," says Vivek. The Apis mellifera bees will now be used in the orange crop to extract honey at Paratwada.
Vivek migrates his colonies to places such as Gorakhpur (for lychee and mustard honey), Paratwada (for orange honey) and Chikhaldara (for eucalyptus honey). He also conducted a five day training programme and a daylong workshop on commercial beekeeping for 35 farmers and about 500 other participants. Khalokar says former president Pratibha Patil visited his beekeeping enterprises this month.