Honey extracted from mustard flowers is also a natural antibiotic, which keeps it in great demand among pharmaceutical companies and other buyers
Establishing of bee boxes across mustard fields has benefitted farmers in the district immensely, adding a source of revenue for them.
Many students have taken up honey collection as a profession, turning themselves into entrepreneurs in the process.
But they all demanded government assistance for the business to develop further as an industry.
Honey extracted from mustard flowers is also a natural antibiotic, which keeps it in great demand among pharmaceutical companies and other buyers.
On visiting various areas of the district, including Basail upazila, it was found that scores of farmers and seasonal producers have set up honey boxes with pet bees beside mustard fields. Family members were also seen assisting the farmers with the process.
The bees extract the honey from the fields and deposit it in the honey boxes.
Aminur Rahman, a resident of Santosh area in Tangail Sadar and a seasonal honey collector for the last 10 years, told the Dhaka Tribune that this year, he has set up 100 honey boxes.
“From December till now, I have collected1.5 tons of honey so far,” hesaid.“Usually, honey extraction from mustard flowers takes place for four months in a year, while the bees are sugar-fed artificially for the rest of the year.”
“This year, I have spent close to Tk250,000. In return, I hope to profit between Tk150,000-200,000 after expenses. Various companies purchase honey from me,” he added.
Aminur informed that honey extraction usually begins from December. Depending on its size, a honey box can accumulate anywhere between 2-40kg of honey. The boxes cost between Tk2,000-12,000 per piece.
But he lamented lack of government support, saying that assistance from the district agriculture office could help them with better knowledge and techniques, increasing their honey production levels.
Shahidul Islam, a seasonal honey collector from Basail, said that many producers have been inspired by him and taken up honey collection themselves.
He also said that seasonal collectors do not own mustard fields themselves, so they have to rely on mustard farmers to allow them to set up their honey boxes next to the fields.
Aynal Haque, a mustard farmer from Bashulia village of Basail, said that although he used to refuse honey collectors at first, after seeing that honey boxes set up next to his field has increased mustard production, he has not refused them since.
Yakub, another honey collector, said that he started a few years ago with just five honey boxes, but now he has over 50, which help him to run his family for almost a year.
According to sources at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), the target for mustard cultivation was set for 28 hectares in the district this year, but it has exceeded to 39 hectares.
Additionally, the target to set up honey boxes across mustard fields was 7,200, but more than 10,000 have been set up so far, resulting in 50,000kg worth of honey extracted till now.
Abdur Razzak, deputy director at the district DAE, said that the exceeding of annual targets show that it has benefited the farmers and collectors financially, as well as made Tangail the second highest honey-producing district after Manikganj.
He also said that the honey is not only distributed across the country, but also sold abroad.
“Setting uphoney boxes next to mustard fields pollinates the fields, thus, enhancing the fertility of the land by 15-20%,” Razzak added.
He cited DAE’s knowledge spreading among farmers in the district as the main reason why they started to allow collectors to set up honey boxes next to their mustard fields.