Beekeeping training helps Afghans overcome economic difficulties

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Balkh province, Afghanistan - Beekeeping helped locals in remote and vulnerable communities in Balkh province in Afghanistan to stabilized and multiply their income.

Most of the people are living in rural areas of Afghanistan. The main sources of their incomes come from the agriculture and livestock. In the recent decade of drought, majority of locals suffered by economical crisis. However there was possibility of income generating activities. Many people in the area haven't any familiarity about them. PIN is implementing a livelihood project entitled Income Stability in Northern Afghanistan (ISNA) that funded by European Commission (EC). Beekeeping helped locals to stabilized and multiply their income.

ISNA project goal is to increase the income stability of the most vulnerable communities and individuals living in remote areas of Balkh province with very unstable living conditions. In the same time to strengthen Balkh residents' ability and capacity to be prepared or to better respond to repeating crisis and be able to secure their basic needs.

ISNA project supports and improves different livelihoods sectors. One of the components with excellent result is beekeeping activity. Locals in Balkh received not only training in apiculture and technical support but also honey bees, necessary tools, extractor machine and other equipment to harvest honey at the end of the season. Know-how was shared by representative of Takhar province. Takhar beekeepers were already supported by PIN former EC funded project in northeast of Afghanistan.

One of the beneficiaries of the project is Hossain. His wife and two children had to live on average wage of the 30 dollars per month. He made his living as cobbler in Maghzar working only two days in week, when local market was open. He has no agricultural land, no livestock and faced hard economic difficulties.

Beekeeping multiplies income of locals

"My income was not sufficient to cover my family expenses and needs, though I received more and less 1,200 to 1,500 Afghanis (24-30 dollars) per month. I didn't have any information about honey bees and how it works. Finally I fortunately took part in practical apiculture training within ISNA project. With other 4 colleagues we started beekeeping in Zare district and gain in one season as pure income from 186 kilograms of honey 91,000 Afghanis ($1,820) and I also multiplied beehives to 9 more. Each beehives cost $120. I also used few quantity of honey to domestic consumption. I have never imagined earning this amount of money. I also definitely care the honey bees to the best of my ability," said Hossain.

"I was a worker. Sometimes I could find job, but most of the time I couldn't. Initially I did not expect that honey bees provide me such amount of money. It is the first time that PIN/ ISNA project encourage our people in income generating activities," said Sayed Hassan, who is one of the beneficiaries of the project. If the honey products will be sold in local markets next year, the beekeepers plan to expand their business to reasonable amount and start to move the hives to seasonal locations.

ISNA project has provided whole technical and financial assistance to beneficiaries and provide them entrepreneurial and marketing trainings. The beneficiaries worked jointly as a group producers in professional networks.