The livelihood of lakhs of people in Sunderban depends on collection and sale of honey but the virus pandemic has left them in the lurch, in its initiative to help these people come out of the Corona inflicted distress the state Forest department has taken a significant stride to stand by the families of the people of Sunderbans who earn their living through collection and selling of honey.
“We have decided to directly purchase honey from the honey cultivators through West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Ltd (WBFDCL). This will ensure that they do not suffer from financial constraints during this emergency situation, “said Rajib Banerjee, state Forest minister.
Banerjee on Wednesday visited areas like Netidhopani, Dayapur, Jamespur, Sajnekhali in Sunderbans to take stock of the situation. Officials of his department informed the minister about the decrease in the number of bees in the area. They reasoned that cyclone Bulbul might have destroyed beehives. “We have already made arrangements of escorting honey collectors in some protected areas in the forest so that they can procure honey,” Banerjee added.
People being mauled by tigers venturing into deep forests for the collection of honey or for catching fishes in creeks is not a rare phenomenon in Sunderbans. As per estimates of researchers every year, 50 fishermen or honey collectors are killed in tiger attacks.
“There is no movement of tourists during this lockdown period. So there have been more tiger sightings. The big cat’s movement is being witnessed in almost every range in the Sunderbans. So we have laid emphasis on safety of the honey collectors,” Banerjee said.
Sunderban Development minister Manturam Pakhira said that over 1,000 people in different islands of the Sunderbans are dependent on honey to eke out a living. “The Sunderban honey is extremely nourishing and is very much in demand. The collectors have a channel of exporters who purchase the honey from them and export the stuff in different parts of the country as well as abroad. But this process has been stalled completely because of the lockdown. So if the Forest department purchases honey directly from the farmers they will be immensely benefitted,” said Pakhira.
The honey collection season in Sunderbans starts in the month of April and usually continues for a period of three months.