Polio-stricken since her childhood, Sangeeta Deol (66), known as “Honey Bee Queen”, died Monday evening at her home in Dhanal Kalan village of Jalandhar district. Deol had been suffering from acute diabetes and kidney problem for some time, said her elder son Prithpal Singh. “We cremated her at our farm today. We want her remains in our field so that her soul always guides us in farming,” he said.
With just one hectare of land, Deol worked innovative ways in bee-keeping, dairy farming and vermi-compost for which she got several honours from the Punjab government, including farmer of year award in 1999. Till her death, she trained young entrepreneurs in these fields for free. The “honey extracting machine’ introduced by her was much appreciated by scientists from Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) and was a great help for the small bee keepers, experts from PAU said, adding that she even marketed her honey herself.
Punjab Kisan Club had also honoured her for diversification techniques in farming. “She was the first woman farmer of the region who taught how even marginal farmers can increase their income by adopting bee-keeping, mushroom growing and by making vermi-compost,” said Dr Naresh Gulati, Agriculture Block Development Officer in Jalandhar. Deol’s husband Inderjit Singh said she started diversification in farming in times when hardly anyone in Punjab even thought about it.
Only recently, Deol had said that to check the suicides among farmers, women should come forward with innovative ideas in farming to support their families. Currently, her family owns 1200 boxes of honey bee.
In the last years of her life, Deol, who was a special invitee to a meeting of state’s progressive farmers in 2012 in Chandigarh, was struggling to get a “water motor” connection, for which she was assured by former CM Parkash Singh Badal. Four years later, during a Sangat Darshan in 2016 at Uggi village in Jalandhar, she went to remind him about his promise. The connection is still pending.