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Beekeeping industry needs attention

After a long time, some good news has emerged. Bad news usually sells well as media has shaped the taste of news readers, viewers and listeners insipidly. Kill the insipid taste for a while. Let’s talk of some good and sweet news.

The news relates to honey, and honey is famous for its sweetness. Beekeeping has made incredible progress in the southern Helmand province, which unfortunately has been in the news for poppy cultivation and violence. In this province, 13 tons of honey was produced this year. Nearly two years ago, farmers in this province, were given honeybees by the Comprehensive Agriculture and Rural Development-Facility (CARD-F), a joint body formed under the tutelage of the Agriculture and Rural Development cluster ministries. The step proved very much productive and such programs need to be extended to other provinces as well so that people’s economic needs could be addressed effectively and they could be protected from falling into the lines of militants. Many of the recruits join militant-ranks as all of the militants are not ideologically driven. Given that the potential militant recruits are given job opportunities, they are protected from becoming militants. Back in peace times, when the war hadn’t broken out in 1979, only in Zabul 60 tons of honey was obtained from 4,000 hives. Many colonies were destroyed in the ongoing war and many professional keepers migrated to Pakistan. Apiculture developed in Pakistan to a new level as the professionalism migrated from here and the greenery was abundantly available there. Nowshera district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is believed to be the largest producing and processing center of honey. In 1989, amid the war, a beekeeping center was established in Dar-ul-Aman. After the Taliban were toppled in 2001, Iran assisted Afghans with 100 beehives, tools and equipment and apiculture activities resumed after a long hiatus.  Traditional bee-hiving with cerena bee has been in vogue in parts of Nuristan, Nangharhar, Kunar and Paktia, because of greenery available there. Since bees thrive on greenery and forests, therefore, greenery in northern Afghanistan must be exploited for this profitable industry. For this first time, man gained honey from Asian bees by plundering their colonies. This plunder is called honey hunting. However, in recent times particularly after 1940s, beekeeping emerged as an industry, in the region. Currently there is no data available how many people have been associated to this industry, but given the product just by one province reveals it can accommodate thousands of people and is a highly profitable industry. However, one thing must be kept in mind that the war and destruction is causing environmental pollution and beekeeping needs a pollution-free environment.

It is not only unemployment and poverty that we could fight through promotion of apiculture in the country but could also generate handsome amount in revenues. Apiculture could also reduce opium production and consumption of narcotics because it is the best alternative to poppy, after saffron. Saffron is becoming popular gradually, but apiculture has long way to go because the government is not providing the required facilities to the beekeepers such as processing, marketing and soft-loans.