Kandahar Man Introduces Basil Nectar to Honeybees

KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): A beekeeper in southern Kandahar province has for the first time produced honey from basil flower and exported the product to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).The specialty of basil honey is it contains small amount of glucose and diabetic people can also eat it. Agriculture officials in Kandahar say it was for the first time in the world that honey was produced from basil flower.

The man behind the remarkable work is Abdul Bari who owns a bee farm in the Dand district. He told Pajhwok Afghan News he started beekeeping four years ago with four hives and currently owned 350 hives in his farm.He said apiculture was not common in Kandahar and he was pioneer in the field and some other people had also started doing the business. He said currently he was raising bees in his farm and also sold them to other people. He exported basil plant from India where the plant was used in medicine production.

Abdul Bari lamented the agriculture department in Kandahar lacked agenda for apiculture development in the province. Ue used to travel to Kabul to bring medicines and other equipment to prevent bees from diseases and other disasters.He said the government could help honey producers adopt standard packing of honey and access international markets for their products. He claimed honey produced from basil ranked second after blueberry honey in the market and one kilogram was accounted for 600 afghanis.

After marking increase in high-quality honey production in central provinces of Afghanistan, beekeepers urge the government to help them find access to international market. They claim they produce over 15 tonnes of good quality honey annually. Honey gets its start as flower nectar, which is collected by bees, naturally broken down into simple sugars and stored in honeycombs.

The design of honeycomb coupled with constant fanning by the bee’s wings causes evaporation to take place, creating honey. Mohammad Ibrahim, a beekeeper from Arghandab district, has 40 hives. He urged the authorities to provide him with honey export facilities.Many farmers use imported plastic boxes to keep bees. “If these boxes are built inside Afghanistan, I think our honey yield will fetch more income,” he believed. Lack of facilities, little government support and some bee infections are among the key problems Kandahar apiarists face.

Eng. Mohammadullah Noori, an agriculture department official who has a farm, said they provided only technical help to farmers how to keep bees. He added 14 honeybee farms registered with the department produced 8,000 kilograms of honey, showing a 100 percent increase. The department has also set up a farm at the Kandahar University.

Noori called Kandahar’s climate suitable for beekeeping. Bees feed on different flowers, including almond and apricot. But basil flowers are known to give a six-time higher honey yield. At the moment, seven types of honey — acacia, orange, basil, cedar and some other flowers — are available in Kandahar.

By Bashir Ahmad Naadim, Nov 19, 2016,Pajhwok Afghan News