Qutubgarh: Where bees help farmers grow
One of biggest village in a cluster of 49 and right at the edge of northwest Delhi bordering Haryana, Qutubgarh, according to its residents, has changed for the better since it has witnessed the “honey revolution”.Updated: Apr 10, 2019 07:16 IST
At 82, Umed Singh Rana has aced the art of giving interviews to news channels and researchers who have been visiting his farm in north-west Delhi’s Qutubgarh village since November 2018. Rana’s was among 10 families who were given 100 bee rearing boxes by Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi.
One of biggest village in a cluster of 49 and right at the edge of northwest Delhi bordering Haryana, Qutubgarh, according to its residents, has changed for the better since it has witnessed the “honey revolution”.
“It was in November last year when we were given these boxes. Initially, all of us thought it was a waste of time. But in the first five months itself, the village has produced 1,100 kg of honey,” Rana said. Buoyed by the success of their honey production, residents have written to Lekhi — who has adopted the village under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana — urging her to change the name of Qutubgarh to ‘Madhugarh’.
Besides honey, the bees also helped the village produce a bumper mustard crop due to cross pollination.
“Mustard production has gone up by 20%. We asked for more bee boxes and now the count has increased to 130. Also, more trees are now being planted in the village because bees need a variety of flora and fauna. These include eucalyptus, neem, shisham and jamun,” said Dinesh Rana, 40, who after two cycles of honey extraction is now imparting apiculture to other farmers in the village.
The success stories have encouraged more Qutubgarh farmers to look for avenues to increase their income. Rajpal Rana, 47, is the first in the village to start organic farming. “The first batch of my wheat produce is now being harvested. Villagers who have tried the flour made out of my organic wheat, say it is tastier. For decades, we have degraded the soil by using fertilizers and pesticides. Now, we plan to change this,” he said.
Ravinder Rana, who owns a 2.5-acre farm, has bigger plans. “I have already applied for licenses to set up a packaging unit. The farmers have also written to the National Centre for Organic Farming to include Qutubgarh in a pilot project under the Central government’s National Project on Organic Farming,” he said.
Lekhi said the main demand of the villagers was streetlights. “Unfortunately, MPLAD cannot be used for works in areas other than the MP’s own parliamentary constituency. I really had to struggle as Rs 25 lakh is the only amount I could use. So, I gave streetlights which may sound like a small thing but was significant as the area had absolutely no lighting which was a big safety hazard,” she said.
The MP said apart from giving bee-boxes, she is also sending trainers on a regular basis to impart skill training to women and the farmers. “The honey turned out to be of the highest quality and it sold for Rs 300 per kg. Now they have learnt to even harness beeswax which is being sold for Rs 600 a kilo,” Lekhi said.
Satveer Singh, 57, was among the 35 potters in the village who received an electric pottery wheel from Lekhi about three months back. “Apart from farmers, this village also has a community of potters. The best thing about the electric wheel is that it has a speed regulator. I can make 50 earthen lamps in 10 minutes. On a manual wheel, it used to take double the time,” he said.
Villagers, however, said the pock-marked roads in the area have not been improved. Lekhi said the work needs to be done by the area MLA through the Delhi government.
They also complained of lack of any hospital or college in the vicinity.
The area MLA, Ram Chander of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), said all major works in Qutubgarh are being done by him. “The village has four colonies. I am getting roads and drains built in each of these colonies through Delhi government’s flood and irrigation department. Some pockets also have got new water pipelines,” he said.
Qutubgarh, however, was not the first village adopted by Lekhi. The MP had first adopted Pilanji village in her New Delhi parliamentary constituency. “A year after I had announced adoption of Pilanji, I got a notice from the rural development department that urbanised villages cannot be adopted under the PM’s scheme. My constituency has no rural village. So, later I adopted Qutubgarh,” she said.
Surrounded by planned government colonies and clean markets, Pilanji village in the upmarket New Delhi area sticks out for its never ending haphazard high-rises and fly breeding garbage strewn across its narrow lanes. But the 11,000-odd residents of this urban village say “all is well” and that there’s little to complain about.
When asked about the works done by the area MP, locals said “development” has taken place, although some of their demands remain unfulfilled. “Roads have been made and new water and sewer lines have been laid. More importantly, all electricity lines have been shifted underground. Short circuits and load shedding were so frequent. This has reduced now,” said Akash Baisoya, a third generation resident of Pilanji.
While Qutubgarh is a Jat dominated village, Pilanji, the only urbanised village in the New Delhi assembly constituency, is dominated by the Gujjars.
Residents also complained that they were unable to use the community centre in Pilanji. “The building was supposed to be a baraat ghar-cum-recreation centre for the village. It was supposed to have a library too. But, it is currently being rented out to some NGO. Also, there is no public toilet facility in our area. One is there within the community centre premises, but it has been locked down,” said Dheer Singh, who is known as the ‘pradhan’ of Pilanji village.