Under The Mango Tree, the reign of bees

UTMT

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Under The Mango Tree aims to enhance the livelihoods of small, marginal farmers by training them in indigenous beekeeping, to improve their incomes through increased agro-horticultural yields and honey production. UTMT’s intervention also benefits the community as a whole by fostering beekeeping-related micro-enterprises and self-employment opportunities in the project villages, and providing guaranteed market-access for their products and services.

 

Based in Mumbai, UTMT operates in 3 states – Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

 

The main reason why Under The Mango Tree exists :

UTMT works with small, marginal farmers who practice subsistence farming i.e. farmed produce is usually just sufficient for meeting the food requirements of the household. The absence of irrigation facilities means they can cultivate only during the monsoon season. For the rest of the year, the farmers migrate to nearby towns for manual labour work which is the main source of cash income.

As bees are very good pollinators, beekeeping is an additional livelihood that supplements the primary agricultural work of the farmers. It provides them the opportunity to improve their income through the sale of higher agricultural yields and honey.

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How they help rural communities?

UTMT’s initiatives are environmentally sustainable as the indigenous bee Apis cerana indica is locally available and efficiently pollinates the crops grown by the farmers. This is known to enhance agricultural yields by 30% to 60% on an average and promote crop diversification, thereby increasing household food security and generating marketable surpluses translating to household cash earnings. In the second year after beekeeping training, an additional stream of income from sale of honey and beeswax is also created.

UTMT conducts beekeeping training at the village level, followed by monthly handholding visits by their technical team throughout the year. Handholding is important as beekeeping is a seasonal activity that requires different knowledge and practical training to ensure the beebox is healthy in each season. A healthy, buzzing beebox is crucial for a farmer to eventually see benefits of yield increases and honey.

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A local cadre of trainers called “Master Trainers” are developed within the community itself. The Master Trainers look after the beeboxes in their village, receive advanced beekeeping training and take the program forward to neighbouring villages. Input supplies for beekeeping are sourced locally – carpenters are given training to make beeboxes that are supplied to new project areas, and women self-help groups are trained to make swarm bags and bee veils. Additional livelihoods related to beekeeping such as bee colony spotting, natural colony transfer experts, colony rearing, honey and wax aggregation are offered to the community.

The model, thus, improves livelihoods by creating a sustainable eco-system of value added beekeeping – related services.

UTMT has come a long way since its inception in 2009. The biggest recognition was when they won the World Bank Development Marketplace Award 2013, an award given to the most scalable rural development innovations. The grant helped them scale up extensively in Madhya Pradesh.

 

3000 farmers have been trained to date.

They intend taking beekeeping to many more farmers in the states they work in, as well as expanding the programme to more states in India.

They aim to eventually influence policy, for promoting beekeeping as a key agricultural input. In this way, farmers across the country can reap the benefits of bees.

 

Why the name Under The Mango Tree ?

In Indian villages, especially those located in dry, semi-arid regions, a mango tree often stands out in the open space. It’s usually a place for community bonds: farmers rest after a morning’s harvest, women share stories on their return from the local well, traders make transactions, villagers learn about the changes in the world outside their own…

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Under The Mango Tree” is a metaphor calling to mind the areas we work in and the people we work for