Afghanistan Department of Agriculture, PRT work to
expand beekeeping in Konar province
United States Government Press Release / December
KABUL, Afghanistan – Surviving primarily on
subsistence farming, many Afghans teeter on the edge
of malnutrition and starvation every year. In Konar
province, one of the most violent provinces in the
country, an American provincial reconstruction team (PRT)
is working with the Afghan government on a unique
solution to help feed its people: bees.
The Konar Department of Agriculture has a number of
small beehives throughout Konar Valley, and has been
working to expand the reach of the pollinators. Not
only do they hope to breed more bees, they also hope
to build more beehives to be distributed among more
farmers. This is where sugar comes into play.
With the help of Provincial Reconstruction Team
Konar and the United States Department of Agriculture,
the Afghan government has been distributing sugar to
existing beehives to increase their population. More
than 300 pounds of sugar have been provided by the
Afghan Government to local beekeepers and farmers.
They expect that the bees should be ready to help with
the spring pollination of crops. With the help of the
bees, they hope to increase the yields of crops in the
immediate area by at least 10 percent.
The idea is not as far fetched as it may sound.
Bees are a booming business in North America.
According to the University of Georgia’s website
beekeeping is a $9 billion industry in the United
States. Bee hives are bought, sold, and rented out
across the country.
In Canada if a blueberry farmer hopes to increase
profit he can get a return of $41 per every dollar
spent on renting bees for pollination and an apple
farmer can get upwards of $192 per dollar. The Konar
Government hopes to get a similar return for their
Through pollination, bees have been known to
increase the crop yields by as much as 25 percent.
Other plants, such as almond trees, must have a
pollinator to even produce. During the California
almond season, renting a bee colony can cost a farmer
as much as $180 for the season.
Bees also produce raw materials for the Afghan
people to trade and barter. Honey is an obvious
product of successful hives and is especially valuable
in this environment because it is one of the few
agricultural products that do not have to be stored in
cold temperatures. Honey can be easily consumed, sold,
or possibly exported to nearby provinces.
Beeswax is also a valuable commodity. Commercially,
it is a primary component in candles, cosmetics,
polishes and pharmaceuticals. It is the hope of the
Afghan beekeepers to one day export these goods to