These incredible facts around the art of honey-making have continued to baffle me since I first learned of them from Mriganka Kumari of Pratapgarh. This talented entrepreneur — who also happens to be my distant cousin, from our common roots in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghabana — has recently launched a brand of artisanal honey, which is truly noteworthy. Curated under her signature brand, Pratapgarh Collective, Mriganka’s enterprise aims at collecting unpasteurised honey from all over Uttar Pradesh’s farms and bringing them to our tables.
It all started with Mriganka’s fascination towards raw flower honey, alongside her determination to launch an eco-friendly cottage industry with fair trade values. She proceeded by collaborating with expert researcher Dr. Nitin, whose in-depth knowledge and experience in the trade led Mriganka’s venture with optimised machinery and technological know-how. Thereafter, she formed liaisons with several farmers in and around Pratapgarh and consolidated their efforts in tandem with the brand value of Pratapgarh Collective.
In Mriganka’s own words: “Our raw flower honey comes from a single source of nectar. The unique flavour of honey comes strictly from flower pollen. In order to retain the natural enzymes, vitamins and pollen in our honey, there is no over-heating, over-processing or addition of flavour involved in its manufacturing process. And since we harvest our honey in close accordance with when the flowers bloom, it is produced in small batches. For example, Kushinagar’s lychees flower during a narrow window of 14 to 20 days in the months of April and May. This batch is specialised due to a unique flavour, and can only be made during this particular time of the year.”
The increasing range of Mriganka’s mono-floral honey packaged under the label of Pratapgarh Collective stands testimony to a contemporary effort being made towards the revival of age-old traditions and Ayurvedic elixirs. Moreover, it also revives Mriganka’s ancestral values of giving back to the community and ecosystem. She is further encouraged by the favourable conditions posed by the incumbent government, which is an outright supporter of honeymaking and provide subsidies to agriculturalists, specifically women farmers in horticultural avenues of entrepreneurship. Hence, the art of honey-making is no longer restricted to its earlier custodians and has flung its gates open to many others like Mriganka.
Due to honey being listed as an essential good, Mriganka is grateful for having sustained the immense economic blow accorded by the ongoing pandemic. She is focusing her efforts on digital marketing of the product and aspires to go beyond its artisanal honey collection onto other curatorial efforts in the near future.
Summing up, Mriganka says, “We believe in simplicity, hence, Pratapgarh Collective’s way of functioning is as per a simple bee-to-bottle philosophy. Our bee farmers from all over Uttar Pradesh work very hard to fulfil our aim of serving the most unpasteurized honey to our tables. Since we don’t believe in exploiting nature through surplus productions, we manufacture small batches of artisanal honey with tremendous amounts of hard work, labour and love.”