Friday, February 8, 2008

This 'honey tree' feeds a village

8 Feb 2008, 0050 hrs IST,Hitarth Pandya,TNN

DINBARI (Valsad): If you find villagers sitting by the roadside on the Valsad-Nasik state highway with carefully arranged old beer bottles, don't expect them to serve some local brew. They are selling the Dinbari honey, named after their village, which is more famous in the region than any brew.

The villagers are also a case study in the age of global warming why man should protect environment. The Dinbari honey is collected from beehives on just one tree. And, this one silk cotton tree supports an entire co-operative of 95 members. The Shri Jai Hanuman Van Sahkari Mandli Limited was formally registered in 2003.

This 'sweet revolution' is slowly ushering in change in Dinbari. Instead of splurging money on mahuda liquor, the villagers are now thinking of saving. With the money from the co-operative, they have bought large vessels, chairs, loudspeakers and a generator, which they rent out. The co-operative today has a balance of Rs 40,000.

"We get between 75 and 150 bottles of honey every year," says Sakharam Avtar, former sarpanch of Dinbari. "We sell it for Rs 110 a bottle. The bees come to the hives just once in a year and we take good care of the tree." The villagers use beer bottles because a bottle of 750 ml can hold roughly one kg of honey. The honey is so popular that it is sold off in just a couple of hours of hitting the market.

The villagers normally extract the honey on a moonless night and get rid of the bees by smoking them out. Magan Soma Avtar, who heads the society, says: "The beehives came up on the tree about 10 years ago. For five years, we distributed the honey equally among the residents. But, then the elders decided to form a society. Our lives have improved since then." Even the local forest officials have not been able to explain how and why the bees chose just one tree to make their home.


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