Residents of Calcutta can now get pure honey sourced online from the Sunderbans mangroves, with groups of native honey collectors teaming up amid the Covid pandemic to offer home delivery of the natural sweetener.
Aided by the state government, honey collectors in the Sunderbans have launched their offering through www.sundarbansjfmc.org.
Speaking on the novel service, state government officials said the move was aimed at assisting honey collectors amid the pandemic as well as providing a shot in the arm to the famous product from Bengal.
“People can now shop for Sunderbans honey from www.sundarbansjfmc.org. Buyers from Calcutta will get free home delivery and people across the country need to pay a shipping charge to get the product. The move has two-fold benefits, financial help for honey collectors and doorstep delivery for buyers,” said a senior forest official.
Honey is available in jars of two sizes, 250gm and 490gm. According to the website, the jar of 250gm is priced Rs 175 and the 490gm Rs 300. There will be an option for online payment.
Apart from the government site, Sunderbans honey is also be available on the online shopping platform Amazon.
Sources said the state forest department, through the Joint Forest Management Committee, had helped 72 families of traditional honey collectors to form three cooperatives a few months ago and helped them in apiculture inside camps of the forest department in the deep mangroves.
“The cooperatives were formed to practise traditional honey collection by groups who used to move in dense forests in search of wild beehives, leading to many of them losing their lives in tiger attacks. We trained honey collectors in packaging the produce and now they are selling it online,” said Santosha G.R., a forester who served as divisional forest officer in the Sunderbans until recently.
Honey collectors said it was the first time that traditional collectors were selling their produce online and were hopeful that it would help them reap profits.
“There are three cooperatives which are producing honey in the deep mangroves. The honey is the same (or as pure as) as the bees collecting it from the flowers inside the forests. We hope people will love our honey. An agency is helping us deliver the products purchased online,” said Debasish Mondal, the secretary of Kultali Sunderban Banaraksha Bahumukhi Samabai Samiti Limited, a cooperative of traditional honey collectors.
Forest officials said the department had already tagged an NGO to handle the online sale and delivery process.
Aniruddha Sur, who developed the online platform, said: “It is just seven days since online sale has started. We have sold around a hundred bottles of honey so far but numbers will increase. An NGO is also helping us run online sale.”