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The International Rural Women Day, theme “Rural women confront the global cost-of-living crisis”, recognizes their silent contribution to the food systems of the world.

By supporting beekeeping, with training, hives, and equipping women self-help group (SHG) and youth with life skills, DCB Bank hopes to create sustainably livelihood opportunities in the mangrove landscape.

DCB Bank, is collaborating with rural communities to promote coastal ecosystem-based livelihood project through beekeeping for women and youth residing near mangroves in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka.

The beekeeping project is ongoing across six villages of the district with the goal to create an alternate livelihood stream for the local communities.The life skill will provide long-term earning opportunities to women and youth. Women and particularly those in the rural landscape make a silent yet substantial contribution for the well being of their families and community.

The honeybee helps with pollination, this is in addition to the myriad biodiversity of flies, butterflies, birds, and other forms of pollination that keep fruit and food production thriving on earth. India’s domestic bee species are well suited to the dual role of enhancing fruit, agri productivity and provide honey, pollen, beeswax to the beekeepers. The beekeepers provide a safe space free from depredation to the bees. A symbiotic relationship that will have a positive impact on conservation and biodiversity in the region.Beekeeping will also significantly reduce the dependence of the local community on cutting mangroves, the depletion of which has been a cause for concern. Bees feed on mangrove flora or flowers. This is a means to try and achieve a balance in coexistence for humans and mangrove forests.

DCB Bank has arranged 200 bee boxes and healthy bee colonies in the first phase of the project. On the ground teams have worked to inform, educate, and mobilise the communities to volunteer for the training. The Bank is supporting 190 women from 15 self-help groups and 10 youths with bee boxes and bee colonies. They, along with 50 more youth,will receive training in beekeeping. Each bee box can produce up to 10 kilograms of honey a year, and if things go as planned the next year 2023, approximately 2,000 kilograms of honey will be available with the beneficiaries. The expectation for the price of honey is six hundred rupees a kilo. The beneficiary groups shall also receive three honey extractors for the hygienic extraction of superior grade honey.

The participants will be guided in selling their produce in the market. The project will directly benefit five hundred households comprising 75% women, enabling them to gain a manner of financial independence, contribute to the family income and play a key role to maintain the biodiversity in the area. This sustainable rural livelihood enterpriseallows the beneficiaries to conduct beekeeping in the vicinity of their residence while they continue with the daily routine activities.

One of the beekeeping activities also involves setting up bee colonies. Ensuring hygienic bee colonies is important for the success of the sustainable enterprise, the project will include procuring and placing disease-free colonies of Apiscerana indica, a subspecies of the Asiatic honeybee known for its highly social behaviour.

In addition to the participating women and youth, an estimated 260 more individuals, who are a part of farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and will be involved in the making of bee boxes and marketing of honey, will also directly benefit from the project.

DCB Bank Gaurav Mehta, Head PR, Marketing & CSRhad this to say, “DCB Bank focusses on rural communities and their wellbeing. This project has a threefold objective –rural entrepreneurship, sustainable livelihood and build climate change resilience. DCB Bank corporate social responsibility initiatives partner with local communities to protect sources of groundwater, enhance biodiversity, and support sustainable livelihood.

By harnessing bees as a nature based solution – bees as pollinators and income generator, mangroves as bee flora, brings about awarenesson the impact of climate change on the coastal communities. Uttara Kannada has the potential to create a unique space with mangrove honey in the country and give the women a chance to supplement their income and improve their quality of life.DCB Bank is confident that the initiativewill protect biodiversity, enhance crop production,and promote forest regeneration, which isin line with our community development approach and outreach programmes.”

The crucial role of women in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods & overall wellbeing has never been in doubt. Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within households. They make significant contribution to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land, and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

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