Barabanki district, once the largest producer of the best quality opium, drifted to illicit liquor trade over the past one decade when opium farming was hemmed in by too many restrictions.
Located about 27 kilometres from Lucknow, Barabanki is now turning from hooch to honey.
More and more farmers and unemployed youth are being encourage by the police and the administration to take up apiculture (bee-keeping).
Arvind Chaturvedi, Superintendent of police, Barabanki, initiated efforts in Chainpurva village to provide an alternate source of income to the villagers, especially to families that depended on earnings from the sale or manufacture of spurious liquor.
"We found that these families were stuck in a cycle that revolved around illicit liquor. Despite police action and jail sentences, the family members remained a part of the cycle due to lack of suitable alternatives. We decided to find new opportunities for these people," Chaturvedi said.
The SP and other district officials held several meetings with the villagers and suggested that they take up bee-keeping as an alternate vocation. The officials made efforts to make people realize that they could earn a respectable living from bee keeping and secure a better future for themselves.
"We selected 84 families of the village which were linked to hooch trade. In these families there are 32 widows who lost their husbands due to consumption of spurious liquor in the past years. These families were provided basic training of bee keeping and in two months, they are now ready to take up the vocation," the SP said.
The families are currently busy in making 'diyas' (lamps) made of bees' wax for Diwali. They are also making decorative diyas using bees' wax. The raw material for making the diyas is being provided by progressive farmers of the district who have been involved in apiculture. The police officials are buying these diyas for family and friends.
The SP said that they would continue to assist the families in bee-keeping until they become completely self-reliant.
( 349 Words)