PUL-E-KHUMRI (Xinhua): “I can sell around 150 kilograms of honey annually and earn 150,000 afghani (1,948 US dollars) to support my family,” said Matiullah, a farmer in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan province.
Making a living as a beekeeper in his hometown in the Andarab district over the past four years, the farmer said that his work is a fulfilling and lucrative profession.
He said 1 kg of honey is worth 1,000 afghani (12.9 US dollars) at face value.
The honey produced in his farm is “pure,” and this easily profitable industry has attracted many farmers to raise bees in their areas, harvest honey and sell to local markets, he said.
“I started beekeeping four years ago and since then my living conditions have changed as I can earn between 150,000 afghani (1,948 US dollars) to 200,000 afghani (2,595 US dollars) annually by selling honey,” another farmer, Mohammad Edris, told Xinhua with joy.
In addition to keeping bees, the farmer said he also grows wheat, rice, corn and other crops on his farmland to increase his earnings.
He added that the cost of life in a conflict-battered country like Afghanistan can be hard due to persistent war, increasing unemployment and poverty.
Although there is no official statistic on the poverty rate in war-ravaged Afghanistan, the United Nations in late January expressed concern over a surge in poverty and appealed for 730 million US dollars in humanitarian assistance for the country.
Cash-strapped and foreign aid-dependent Afghanistan “cannot always be dependent on international donations,” the country’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said recently, adding that the country should use its natural resources for development.
“We need to work hard to create income-generating resources for ourselves to overcome problems including poverty. Developing the beekeeping industry at this critical stage is a timely and effective way to achieve the goal,” Edris said.
Expressing support to the farmers for growing the beekeeping industry in Baghlan province, the head of the agriculture and livestock department of the restive province, Taj Mohammad Ahmadzai, told Xinhua recently that there are more than 300 beekeeping farms across Baghlan and honey production has consistently been rising of late.
The restive Baghlan province produced 28 tons of honey in 2018 and 35 tons last year, Ahmadzai said, adding the honey harvest in the current year would be announced in the coming months.
Ahmadzai also said that the beekeeping industry has been expanding in the country despite the ongoing insurgency.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Afghanistan has the capacity to produce 11,000 tons of honey annually, but currently it only produces 2,100 tons.
Afghanistan’s honey, according to Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock officials, is exported to and welcomed by countries in the region including India and the United Arab Emirates.