The Sundarbans is the single largest mangrove forest in the world; which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar Convention site. About 40% of the total forest area of Bangladesh is Sundarbans, which is about 4% of the total area of the country. Honey is one of the natural resources of the Sundarbans. The major share of Bangladesh's natural honey comes from the Sundarbans. Every year approximately 2,000 honey collectors extract about 2,700 quintals of honey and about 600 quintals of beeswax from the Sundarbans. Those who collect honey from the Sundarbans are known as “Mowal”. With the permission of the forest department, honey collectors (Mowal) collect honey from the Sundarbans from April 1 to June 30 every year.
Japan Environmental Education Forum (JEEF) and (BEDS) have implemented a project entitled "Project on livelihood improvement for the poor honey collector through coast watershed conservation around the Sundarbans in Bangladesh” by the grant assistance for grassroots projects of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Under the project ‘The Sundarbans Honey Collectors Cooperative Society Ltd.’ was formed with 50 honey collector families which was registered by the Department of Cooperatives, Government of Bangladesh. A honey processing and packaging center has been established beside the Harinagar Bazar in Munshigonj with the members of this cooperative society.
The project was in pilot basis, from that project we established some instruments of honey candy making. We provided capacity building training on honey processing and honey candy making. Mowals have prepared honey candy in pilot basis. BEDS has been supporting those honey collectors since 2016 for improving the value chain of wild honey and livelihoods of the poor honey collectors. Honey candy is a new innovation for Bangladesh, as there is no such candy of honey is available in market. Thus, it has a great opportunity in market.
But still there are some gaps in honey candy making and business establishment. Still there need some instruments (moisture control machine, dew modifier, air conditioner), compatible infrastructure repairing of honey candy house, product marketing and packaging. For business-oriented production and market accepted product making we need skilful training involving technical experts. Apart from that There need be all kinds of facilities (laboratory, modern equipment) for quality control and research.
In addition, certification from national certification bodies of honey should be given utmost importance for the expansion of honey business. Consequently, these initiatives would be a milestone for Nature based livelihoods improvement of the honey collectors as well as the conservation of the Sundarbans natural resource.