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World Bee Day: Depending on the survival of bees

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2021)

The UN General Assembly has designated May 20 as World Bee Day to raise awareness of the importance of bees, support for beekeeping and the effects of bee pollination on sustainable development of agriculture and food supply.

According to the UN, bees are under threat. Present species extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to human impacts.

Close to 35 percent of invertebrate pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and about 17 percent of vertebrate pollinators, such as bats, face extinction globally.

If this trend continues, nutritious crops, such as fruits, nuts and many vegetable crops will be substituted increasingly by staple crops like rice, corn and potatoes, eventually resulting in an imbalanced diet.

But government, farmers and ordinary citizens can play their part to make sure bees do not become extinct.

Individually people can plant a diverse set of native plants, which flower at different times of the year; buying raw honey from local farmers; buying products from sustainable agricultural practices; avoiding pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in our gardens; protect wild bee colonies when possible; make a bee water fountain by leaving a water bowl outside; and raising awareness by sharing this information within our communities and networks.

Beekeepers and farmers can also help by reducing, or changing the usage of pesticides; diversifying crops as much as possible, and/or planting attractive crops around the field.

Governments in turn can strengthen the participation of local communities in decision-making, in particular that of indigenous people, who know and respect ecosystems and biodiversity; enforcing strategic measures, including monetary incentives to help change; increasing collaboration between national and international organizations, organizations and academic and research networks to monitor and evaluate pollination services.

The number of beekeepers have meanwhile grown in Afghanistan over the past few years and today local honey production exceeds the two metric ton mark.

Akbar Rustami, director of information and spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), said recently that honey production reached 2,490 metric tons in Afghanistan last solar year.

According to Rustami, Paktia topped the list with 899 tons of honey, followed by Nangarhar with 500 tons and Khost with 416 tons, which are the most important honey producers in the country. Herat, Laghman, Badakhshan, Kunduz and Bamyan are also on the list of major honey producing provinces.

Rustami said recently that there are currently 6,757 large and small beekeeping farms across the country, most of them in Badghis, Herat, Badakhshan, Paktia, Kunduz, Daikundi, Bamyan, Logar, Sar-e-Pul, Farah, Maidan Wardak, Kapisa, Takhar, Baghlan and Khost provinces.

Rustami said that Badghis with 722, Herat with 593, Paktia with 550 and Badakhshan with 526 beekeeping farms are at the top of the beekeeping table.

Beekeeping is growing as a lucrative business and its products have a good domestic and foreign market.

One kilo of pure honey is sold in the domestic market from 500 to two thousand afghanis, depending on its type.

Meanwhile, the amount of honey production in 1398 had reached two thousand and one hundred tons, and this figure has increased by 390 tons in the past year.

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Saffron producers appeal for global exports to resume

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(Last Updated On: October 23, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Saffron Producers Union on Saturday called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to help restart the saffron production and export sector, which came to a grinding halt due to the coronavirus pandemic and the change in government.

Officials from the union said that unless something is done to restart business, the saffron industry could collapse.

They said that now, without commercial cargo flights into Afghanistan, their international market flow has dried up.

“We had products, but stopped because of COVID-19. Our products and exports have been stopped. If there is no [export] corridor for us saffron production will be stopped,” said Abdul Basir Azimi, an exporter of saffron.

Officials of the Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock meanwhile called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to find a market for domestic products.

“Our saffron was ranked number one in the world several times, but now faces problems. Export environment should be provided for saffron,” said Mirwais Hajizada, deputy head of the chamber.

Economic analysts meanwhile urged the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL)

to support the export of domestic products.

“We have seen that some of our products have a special place in global markets, and have many customers in the world. Now the market for products has disappeared. The basic problems should be solved,” said Saeed-ur-Rahman Imran, an economic analyst.

Afghanistan’s saffron is a valuable revenue generator for the country and the industry employs hundreds of thousands of workers directly and indirectly.

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Rising wood prices a cause for concern in Kabul as winter looms

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

Kabul residents on Thursday raised concerns about rising prices of heating materials as people started shopping to prepare for winter.

During the winter, Afghan families typically keep warm by using a wood-burning bukhari, a drum-shaped stove made of thin metal, or a pit of burning coal under a small table covered by a heavy blanket.

Kabul resident Abdul Khaleq Hashemi urged the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government to bring prices under control.

“The flour, rice, and oil taxes are in the control of the Taliban (IEA) and they should all have a certain fixed price. Same for wood, it should have a certain fixed price, and this issue should be brought under control. It is not right for everyone to sell wood at any price they want,” he said.

Facing an economic crisis as winter approaches, IEA officials appealed to the international community to release frozen assets of more than $9 billion and increase shipments of humanitarian relief as the nation faces an economic crisis.

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IEA won’t be allowed access to Afghan central bank reserves: US

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2021)

Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo on Tuesday said he sees no situation where the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) who regained power in Afghanistan in August, would be allowed access to Afghan central bank reserves, which are largely held in the United States.

The IEA have called for the United States to lift a block on more than $9 billion of Afghan central bank reserves held outside the country as the government struggles to contain a deepening economic crisis.

“We believe that it’s essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban (IEA) but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people. That’s exactly what we’re doing,” Adeyemo told the Senate Banking Committee.

The IEA took back power in Afghanistan in August after the United States pulled out its troops, almost 20 years after the IEA were ousted by U.S.-led forces following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Washington and other Western countries are grappling with difficult choices as a severe humanitarian crisis looms large in Afghanistan. They are trying to work out how to engage with the IEA without granting them the legitimacy they seek, while ensuring humanitarian aid flows into the country.

“Our goal is to make sure that we are implementing our sanctions regime against the Taliban (IEA) and the Haqqani network, but at the same time allowing for the permissible flow of humanitarian assistance into the country,” Adeyemo said.

The Haqqani network is a group affiliated with the IEA based near the border with Pakistan and blamed for some of the worst suicide attacks of the war.

Adeyemo said the Treasury was taking every step it could within its sanctions regime to make clear to humanitarian groups that Washington wants to facilitate the flow of aid to the Afghan people, but warned that for humanitarian assistance to flow, the IEA have to allow it to happen within the country.

The Treasury last month further paved the way for aid to flow to Afghanistan despite U.S. sanctions on the IEA when it issued two general licenses.

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