Beekeeping Replaces Opium Farming in Afghanistan (Video)
Image credit: British Forces News
I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone wear a flak jacket into a bee yard before.
We've already heard about how Beekeeping Without Borders has taken honey bee education to Iraq and beyond. Afghanistan is also benefiting from a concerted effort to promote beekeeping. In fact, if this video is to be believed, beekeeping may be a key tool in eradicating opium poppy farming. With Afghan officials reporting a 15% drop in opium farming this year, some farmers are turning to alternative, legal sources of income. A video from the British Armed Forces news reports on agricultural extension efforts aimed at encouraging this trend.
Of course it goes without saying that the "official line" of either the Afghan government on opium production, or the British Army's reporting on outreach efforts, should not be taken completely at face value. Nevertheless, it is good to see UK and US government money going into encouraging sustainable, diversified income generation for farmers who might otherwise be tempted to grow opium.
I doubt that any decline in opium production can be directly linked to beekeeping initiatives, or any other farmer education programs. The market price of opium and the ever fluctuating level of commitment to law enforcement seem like the most likely drivers. But given that every farming nation needs pollination to survive, and that bees around the world are struggling, this seems as good a place as any for our military to be spending their time in the interests of true, lasting security and stability.