Name : Ram Jethabhai Mulubhai
Age : 35 years old
Location : Veraval, Gir Somnath, Gujarat
Business : Artist, Coconut Farmer & Honey Bee Cultivator
Ram Jethabhai Mulubhai has made some bold decisions in his life. On completion of 12th standard, he enrolled himself in a 5-year Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, and decided to become an artist! Pretty bold for a humble farmer’s son!
So when his father’s health ailed and he was forced to take over the family farm, it was not surprising that he decided to pursue something very different – like rearing honey bees – to make the farm viable. With 15 bigha of land, the family relied upon a 20-year-old coconut plantation, planted by his father. But issues with pollination meant the trees hardly bore fruit – bringing in just Rs. 45,000 at harvest – and that too, only once every 2 years!
Jethabhai sought advice from ACF’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) – how could he optimise the land and plantation but make it a financially viable business?
It seemed that he too was being impacted by the worldwide shortage of bees – a lack of bees in the area was affecting his tree pollination, and the fruiting rate of his trees was taking a hit as a result. But he wasn’t alone. In an effort to tackle this nationwide issue, the Government of India had launched an initiative to train local farmers on honey bee cultivation, and Jethabhai was quick to sign up for the course.
In 2021, he became an official Honey Bee Cultivator, certified by the Government of India, and he invested in 40 boxes of bees to kickstart the business, with 50% subsidised by the Government. It was certainly no easy task, and the first time he opened the boxes to check the bees, he got stung from head to toe! He promptly called KVK and told them bee rearing was not for him after all! The ACF team told him to be patient and offered to train him more on how to handle the bees gently.
And of course, the gamble paid off! Today he harvests 600 kg of honey from 70 boxes of bees. That’s 21 lakh bees doing some hard work! He packages the honey and sells it in the local market – hauling in Rs. 3.6 lakh as a result. But his income doesn’t end there. He rents out bee boxes to farmers to help them pollinate their crops, earning Rs. 1 lakh in the process, and as a woodworker, he builds honey boxes (resplendent with decorative wooden carvings) and sells them to other farmers, totalling Rs. 2 lakh per year. Oh, and he has seen a 20% increase in produce from his coconut farm also!
What about his artwork? Being less labour intensive than other forms of farming, he continues to work as an artisan in his spare time, earning Rs. 1 lakh annually from his intricate paintings, carved woodwork, and other showpieces.
“The honey bees have become my family! Even when they are stinging me, my income is doubling – so I really don’t mind!” he laughs.
- 600 kgs honey
- 21 lakhs bees
- Rs. 6.6 lakh additional income