Born in 2031 in Rapti Rural Municipality-2 Dang, Yanuka Gharti Magar – daughter of Indra Bahadur Rana Magar spent her childhood collecting fodder grass and firewood. Her community with indigenous people has a very strong taboo not allowing daughters to go to school, as they are destined to agricultural labor and firewood and fodder grass collectors. Despite her strong desire to continue her study with her male classmates her parents forced her to drop her studies while she was a fifth grader. Since then, her aspiration for education remained just a distant dream.
As time passed she grew up and got married at the tender age of 17 with Guman Singh Gharti Magar of Sarumarani Rural Municipality-5 Pyuthan district. She had to face a new place, a new environment and a new family with poor economic background. Apart from convincing and taking care of parents, in-laws she had no choice but to bear various household pains due to differences in culture, environment and economic poverty.
She gave birth to her first child- son after a year of her marriage and brought him up without proper nutrition, many times she herself suffered from anemia when she had to feed her baby during the lactation period.
Yanuka–a mother of two daughters and a son was widowed as she lost her husband while he was just 32 due to jaundice. She could have saved him if she had enough money to afford his treatment. Her hard days started further with extra responsibilities to take care of her elderly parents, in-laws and three children, somehow she solely managed in those dreadful days.
Yanuka’s village has been involved in beekeeping business using ceranaspp in producing Chiuri (butter tree) honey. She had two conventional bee hives producing limited quantities of honey. Honey served one of the important sources of income to support her family’s livelihood. In her community honey is used for nutrition as well as medicine to treat ailments like common cold and body ache among others and offering for God and Goddesses during worship. They also use honey as a valuable souvenir to offer their visiting friends and families. As Yanuka’s family has had a limited production of food grains such as corn, rice, lentil which serve as staple food, she used to exchange these products with honey visiting door to door of the land lords.
In the year 2001 she received training on beekeeping conducted by a cottage industry development program affiliated to the government. Similarly in 2007 she participated in a five-day basic beekeeping training held in Dhungegadhi VDC of Pyuthan organized by Bee Development Section of Nepal government. These training were very inspirational to educate people in her society as a result she formed a women’s group of beekeepers and led them constantly.
Later she connected the group with Airawati Multipurpose Small Farmers Cooperative (AMSFC) located at Baddanda Pyuthan. According to her, this organization is one of the leading cooperatives engaged in beekeeping and other agricultural production. The group being a member of AMSFC they got a chance to be exposed to a weeklong advance training on high-quality honey production, processing and storage with observation tours to the model farms. This training was locally organized by AMSFC on the sponsorship of GIZ.
Inspired by this training each member of her group either started up scaling beekeeping business aspiring higher income. The total production of honey was thus increased threefold. However, the market became a problem despite efforts to address the issue. For many years they have had middlemen who were the real marketing agents and they used to buy and transport at a very cheaper rate that only benefitted them largely leaving them on the edge. There used to be a bigger surplus of honey stocked in the community needing a greater market.
Surprisingly, one day Yanuka received some good news that was shared by AMSFC about OWF (Organic World and Fair Future) who have been a value chain partner connecting the Chiuri honey for the first time into the super markets. Further with this partnership she also came to learn about the Mountain Partnership (MP) and its tag which was being introduced for their Chiuri honey, this message was swiftly spread across the group members that brought smiles in their faces. With the time the MP tag has been instrumental to fight off the fake products in the market in the name of Chiuri honey. Since they are confident about their honey which is a nectar extract from Chiuri flowers collected by the cerana bees, they consider it pure because the source is purely chiuri flower from their community forest, there won’t be any other flowers present coinciding with Chiuribloom during the season.
Yenuka says, now this tag has protected their originality and also upgraded the value of their product, they have been selling Chiuri honey with pride on increased price, the demand is also increasing. The group members realized that their self esteem has been boosted further through this instrument.
In her group the tag for the product has been recognized as a valuable asset symbolizing the quality, purity and originality so their happiness knew no bounds. The number of clients of the Chiuri honey are increasing. Yanuka has now started selling at least 100kg honey equivalent to 1015 US$ annually. Recently she has received a set of equipment related to bee culture at a subsidized rate from AMSFC. From this business she has managed to feed and cover health care and education for her family of six– elderly parents, in-laws, two daughters, a son and herself– she is very happy and satisfied.
She said that she has been teaching her children and community people simultaneously while running her business. At the same time, she is also planning to commercialize her business further and aspires to be one of the best commercial beekeepers in the area. She expressed her gratitude towards government organisations, non-government organisations and international non-government organisations and in particular to AMSFC, GIZ, MPS and OWF for their kind support.