Beekeeping helps Afghan women support their families

Image credit: AFP

TMP – 02/06/2017

Women entrepreneurs are turning to beekeeping and honey production as a source of income for themselves and to support their families.

With support from a number of NGOs and foreign aid, four beekeeping cooperatives have been set up in Bamiyan province, Central Afghanistan. This has created more than 400 job opportunities whereby women account for almost half of them.

In 2012 the Ministry of Agriculture started to promote beekeeping, supported by development projects to revive the sector. The efforts have paid off and the four cooperatives now produce 14 tonnes of honey a year.

Jamila is a grandmother living alone. She started beekeeping a year ago when she got her first colony from her neighbour. “I make my money for me”, she says proudly. Each kilo of honey fetches 800 Afghanis in Bamiyan and 1000 in Kabul. By maintaining her one hive Jamila is able to support herself now that her children have left home.

“I can pay for the bus when I want to visit my daughter, I can buy her chocolate,” Jamil adds.

Another female beekeeper, Marzia, turned to honey production as a source of income when her husband was killed by the Taliban in 2000. She now keeps four hives.

“With the honey I can support my family, I am a boss of my own,” Marzia explains.

Fatima and her daughters tend to the honeycombs in the several hives they keep on the slopes of Qatakan. Fatima’s husband assists his wife by bringing sugar for the bees. “It’s the first time we have worked together,” he says with a smile.

Beekeeping is offering Afghans a sustainable business solution and one that is becoming evermore attractive to Afghan women. “It is widely accepted here by the society that women can be at the frontline to support the family,” said provincial agricultural official Abdul Wahab Mohammadi. “It’s increasing — people see it as a success story and they are copying it.”