KABUL: Zamanuddin Ahmadi started a beekeeping business in northern Afghanistan three years ago with just a few assets to his name. Now, he is one of the biggest honey producers in Badakhshan province and owns 160 hives.
“It is an easy, simple job, and you need only a little money to start this business. The money you earn from it is good,” he told Arab News.
The remote and impoverished province is becoming increasingly famous for its high-quality and healthy products. Last year, with others following Ahmadi’s example and joining the industry, Badakhshan produced 283 tons of honey.
The region’s climate, terrain and various types of wildflowers have proved to be especially conducive to beekeeping and the success, according to Ahmadi, has even prompted residents of neighboring Takhar province to turn to the honey industry.
More than 590 large and small-scale honey farms are now operating in Badakhshan, data from the Ministry of Agriculture shows.
The total honey production in Afghanistan was 2,150 tons in 2019, said Akbar Rustami, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture in Kabul.
“We see a 70 percent rise in honey production in Badakhshan and Takhar. The region produces the best quality honey,” he told Arab News.
Ahmadi sells a kilogram of top-quality honey, called Shengalak, for 800 afghanis (about $10).
According to Rustami, the price of Shengalak is around 4,000 afghanis in India and the UAE, which started importing it last year.
Iran and Pakistan are the main markets for Afghan honey, according to dealers.
“We are keen to promote this industry as it is profitable and you do not spend much energy and money,” Rustami said, adding that with growing domestic production, Afghanistan would seek to cut its honey imports.