NEWS 10 out of 13 popular honey brands have failed in a test of purity conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
BACKGROUND CSE recently released results of an investigation it had conducted into the quality of honey being produced in India. It reported that products by many popular brands were not honey, and, in fact, had been spiked with added sugar. Therefore, they ought not to be branded and sold as honey.
RESULTS OF THE CSE REPORT
- Adulteration technology has become sophisticated globally.
- There are commercial products available which are designed to cheat the tests that Indian food testing laboratories conduct to ascertain the purity of honey.
- It destroys the livelihoods of bee-keepers as adulteration reduces the price of honey in the market, making extraction of pure honey unprofitable.
- Indian companies involved in the honey business are importing synthetic sugar syrups from China to adulterate honey.
WHAT IS HONEY?
Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance made by honey bees and some related insects. Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of plants or from secretions of other insects, by regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation. There are at least 300 recognised types.
It is rich in antioxidants, amino acids and other products which give honey its medicinal properties. This is why honey is part of traditional medicine and has been promoted as an immune system stimulant. The addition of artificial sugar syrups reduces the concentration of these elements per gram of honey.
- Honey consumption in India has seen steady growth over the last some decades.
- The major consumption of honey is done by medicine manufacturing firms.
- The other chief product obtained from bee colonies – beeswax which is utilized in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics soaps, etc.
CURRENT DEVELOPMENT OF BEEKEEPING SECTOR
- At present, India is the 8th largest producer of honey in the world.
- According to the National Bee Board, under the agricultural department, India’s honey production in 2017-2018 was 1.05 lakh metric tons (MTs) as compared to the 35,000 metric tons (MTs) honey production in 2005-06.
- As per the International demand, the export rate of honey in India was 50%. But now it has been increased by 207%.
- According to the recent report of the Indian Government, the large-scale employment in the beekeeping sector is estimated to create 3 lakh jobs by setting up 10,000 beekeeping colonies.
- Fertilization by honey bees at the farms increased the crop yield manifold. Agricultural experts say that additional yield obtained due to the fertilization of honey bees is 15 to 20 times than the money generated by stockpile products.
CHALLENGES FACED BY BEEKEEPING SECTOR
- Destruction of honey bees due to drastic climatic change.
- Along with this winter has affected nectar secretion in several parts of the country.
- Bee-eaters in the Himalayas (a bird that eats honey bees) migrated to Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh due to huge climatic change in winter.
- Farmers who cultivate only sugar canes have limited the scope for honey bee variants. This is also a bad sign for the beekeeping sector.
GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES TO BOOST HONEY PRODUCTION
- With dedicated implementation of Honey Mission in India, honey production has found a huge growth. It has perceived a 200 percent increase in 12 years.
- Indian Government plans to establish an Integrated Bookkeeping Development Centre in the 16 states of the country. Those will be in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh.
- To encourage beekeeping and honey production, the Khadi and Village Industry Commission (KVIC) has launched “Apiary on Wheels”, an initiative aimed at reducing labour and maintenance costs to the farmers. This step is taken in the direction of achieving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of “Sweet Revolution” in the country. The initiative also aims at increasing the market value of India’s honey industry up to Rs 2,800 crore by 2020.