The “master honey hunters” of Wayanad’s forests: Kattunayikka tribesmen’s involvement for sustainable harvesting – Kerala

KOZHIKODE: Heavy summer rain has turned out to be manna from the skies for tribal honey hunters in Wayanad, the leading wild honey producing region in the state. The massive blooming of forest flora after the summer rain has given hopes of a bountiful harvest in the ongoing season that extends till September. […]

“We are looking forward to good harvest of over 20,000kg of wild honey as forest trees like Maruthu (Terminalia paniculata), Venthekku (Lagerstroemia microcarpa) Chadachi (Grewia tiliaefolia), Thanni (Terminalia bellerica) etc have bloomed in abundance this year following summer rain,” said OA Ramakrishnan, president of the Sultan Bathery Scheduled Tribes Cooperative Society at Kallur, the largest tribal society in the state. […]

The society had a dull season last year and could procure only 12,000kg, following adverse findings in the tests done by food safety authorities. Society officials said that subsequent tests conducted in laboratory in Mysuru had confirmed that the honey was of good quality.

“Timely summer showers saved us this season. We feared that this year’s scorching summer would dry up the honey yield and our main source of income. But, summer showers have become a blessing,” Mathan, a tribesman from the Ponkuzhi colony said.

Secretary of Thirunelly Scheduled Tribes Cooperative Society Sunoj EG, said that they have collected 5,000kg of honey and hope to collect over 8,000 more by the end of the season. Last year, the society had collected only 6,000kg.

The Kattunayikka tribesmen are master honey hunters, who make a living by collecting wild honey and other forest produce. Wild honey is mainly collected from the hives of rock bees on the branches of tall trees. The tribal wild honey collectors, who venture into the forests in groups of four or five members, gather honey by climbing the tall trees. The bees are driven away with the help of a smoker and the honey part of the hive is cut off.

State forest department, which procures and markets honey through eco-development committees inside Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, had taken steps to ensure sustainable harvesting of honey from forests.

Source: “Heatwave in kozhikode: Summer rain ensures bountiful harvest for tribal honey hunters” by K R Rajeev,  Times of India, 18 May 2017
Date Visited: 18 January 2022

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The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Forest Rights Act) gives members of tribal communities the right “to collect, use, and dispose of minor forest produce including bamboo, brush wood, stumps, cane, tussar, cocoons, honey, wax, lac, tendu or kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots, tubers.” – Azim Premji University Team

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