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.
Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to sign marble export agreement
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Haneef Atmar and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov, have discussed Afghanistan exporting marble to Turkmenistan.
In a statement issued by the Afghan foreign ministry, MoFA said the Afghan delegation provided comprehensive information to their Turkmen counterparts on the various natural resources and rare stones available in Afghanistan.
The Afghan delegation said the export of the resources would be significant in strengthening and expanding trade between Kabul and Ashgabat.
Highlighting development taking place and the construction around building new cities in Turkmenistan, the Turkmen delegation discussed their requirement for marble and expressed Turkmenistan’s full readiness to procure marble from Afghanistan.
The two sides agreed to sign an agreement on Afghanistan’s marble export to Turkmenistan.
Parliament ratifies Iran, Afghanistan rail cooperation agreement
Iran’s Parliament on Monday passed Iran-Afghanistan Rail Cooperation Agreement that allows rail connection between the neighboring countries.
Iran and Afghanistan agreed to make direct connection through railroad to transfer passengers and goods.
According to the agreement, the two sides have agreed to provide rail vehicles and services and implement sanitary supervision in accordance with international rules, while domestic rules are valid where an issue occurs outside of international conventions.
The agreement also states that the two sides must treat passengers and goods from the other side the way they treat their own. This applies to free access to destination points, providing space for cargos in terminals, unloading and uploading of cargos, onboarding and offboarding passengers, and using international railroad services.
Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and Afghanistan Railway Authority have been chosen in the agreement as qualified authorities to supervise implementing the agreement and to solve disagreements.
Iran and Afghanistan linked their railway through Iran’s Khaf and Afghanistan’s Herat.
Chinese consortium meets with Ghani over $400 million power project
A group of Chinese investors met with President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday to discuss the possibility of establishing a coal-fired power plant in the country.
The Presidential Palace (ARG) said in a statement the group plans to invest $400 million in the energy-generating project.
The plan is for the coal power plant to generate 300 megawatts of electricity.
“In the meeting, President Ghani articulated potentials of natural resources as well as investment opportunities in the energy sector in Afghanistan,” the statement read.
The statement noted that Ghani has instructed the Afghanistan Investment Facilitation Unit to assess the plan “in coordination with Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat to facilitate investment opportunities for the group and to share the outcome with the Office of the President.”
Energy in Afghanistan is provided by hydropower followed by fossil fuel and solar power.
According to Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), approximately 35% of Afghanistan’s population has access to electricity.
Currently, Afghanistan generates about 600 megawatts (MW) of electricity from several hydroelectric plants as well as using fossil fuel and solar panels.
However, more than 670 MW more is imported from neighboring Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
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