Gede, Nov. 3: Border Security Force (BSF) has begun installing beehives to the smart fencing erected along the Indo-Bangladesh border in an attempt to combat the smuggling of cattle while at the same time helping the local villagers to generate livelihood.
The installation of the beehives is part of an integrated project launched by the BSF in association with the Ministry of Ayush which aimed to grow medicinal plants along the fenced stretches of the international while undertaking apiculture at the same time involving the local villagers to discourage them from their association with the smuggling network.
The BSF authorities claimed that the beehives would act as a deterrent for the smugglers trying to cut the alloy-made fencing and a swarm attack of the bees can disperse them instantly while injuring with the sting at the same time.
India shares around 2500 km of its border with neighbouring Bangladesh of which about 250 km stretch of the fencing falls under the South Bengal region. BSF on a regular basis combat a slew of illegal activities like smuggling, of items like narcotics, cattle, gold, and medicine.
As a first step towards the endeavor taken up under the “Vibrant Village Programme”, the BSF authorities have distributed over three thousand saplings of medicinal plants like Satamukhi, and Tulsi among the villagers under this pilot project, which have already been planted on 1 km stretch close to the fencing in Gede area of Nadia district. The artificial beehives are fitted to the fencing close to the medicinal plantation so that the bees can pollinate in abundance.
Rich in vitamins A, C, and B complex Satamukhi and minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium, the Satamukhi (Colocasia) plant leaves are used as a good nutrient in the diet, while Tulsi (Ocimum Sanctum) works as a natural immunity booster, reduces cold, cough, respiratory trouble, controls blood pressure apart from providing other benefits.
Once the medicinal plants are matured, the Ayush authorities would collect them for value addition. The value-added products herbal products and honey will be marketed through BSF and the entire benefit will be distributed among the villagers. BSF authorities said Ayush authorities would also provide all technical support for cultivation.
The brain behind the project, Sujeet Kumar, commanding officer of Battalion-32 said, “Our objective is to enhance the life of the border people by helping them to earn money and at the same time to combat the fencing-cutting attempts of smugglers”.
“We have witnessed a menace of fencing cutting by the miscreants for cattle smuggling. So we have fitted the beehives to the smart fencing so that it helps to protect fencing, particularly during the night. If the smugglers try to cut, it must be tilted which would disturb the bees and attack the miscreants”, Commanding officer Sujeet Kumar told The NfN.
Sources said during October, BSF authorities appraised the Ayush authorities about the project. BSF authorities also held talks with the villagers, and Ayush representatives also interacted with them. After some training and nurturing of plants and beehives, the plants and beehives were distributed during the first week of November.
Abhijit Ghosh, a representative of Ayush and chairman of the project implementing agency said, “Before distribution of the saplings, we have examined which plants are conducive for the area. The villagers were also imparted necessary training on farming and apiculture. We will provide them with all the technical expertise to encourage them to cultivate more medicinal plants in their area so that they can earn better than conventional farming”.
Speaking to The NfN, Sujeet Kumar said, “People living in the border are solely dependent on conventional farming, which now gives little dividends. They also have few job opportunities, which the smuggling operators often exploit to trap them by luring them for easy money. We aim to enhance their earning with integrity and to involve them in the protection of fencing this way”. “We are happy that the villagers have responded well to our initiative”, he added.
A villager said, “It is a very good initiative by the BSF. I think this project of the medicinal plantation would be very popular in comparison to conventional farming, which helps little to live a decent life”.