KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Honey production in southern Khost province has increased, but traders complain about lack of access to market.
Mohammadullah, a beekeeper in Khost City was busy checking boxes for honey.He wore a special suit to protect himself from stings.
Mohammad said: “Usually, four people work on this farm, giving medicine and sugar to the bees. The number of workers occasionally increases to 10,”
His farm contains 283 bee boxes and he changes their locationfor different seasons inside the country. At times, the boxes are transferred across the border to Pakistan.
“The honey production goes up in the summer when melon flowers open. Sometimes we shift the bee boxes to Deer area,having different flowers. Then we bring them to Darya Khan, which is also rich in flowers.”
Honey production is on the increase in Khost, but traders complain about poor access to market.“People turn to apiculture after losing jobs, we sell the product in Khost and Gardez, but most of our customers are from Peshawar.”
According to the Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Department, there are around 400 bee farms in Khost. The honey produced there is smuggled abroad and sold for low prices.
Agriculture Director Dr. Naqibullah told Pajhwok Afghan News they were trying to find a proper market for honey products and sell them under Afghanistan trademarks.
“We have no association of apiculturists in Khost. But we are trying to create one. Finding market is an important issue for Khost beekeepers and we are trying to do so,” he observed.
A trader from Khost City, Jamal Tanai, said honey produced in Afghanistan was of good quality. The product would capture the international market, if promoted by the government.
“Not only honey, but dried fruits such as pine nuts, walnuts, almond and others should also have good markets to prevent their smuggling,” he said.
Khost Commerce Director Bahram Burhani said they were trying to find a better market for honey, but he complained some government officials were creating hurdles to them.
“We want to find a market for honey inside the country and in foreign countries, but some senior government officials do not allow us to do so,” he alleged. However, Burhani did not name anyone.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock acknowledged honey production had increased. It said around two million kilograms of honey was produced in the country last year.
The ministry has been struggling to promote apiculture, as Afghanistan offers a proper environment for the business.