Bee-keepers in Yemen produce some of the world's finest honey, but sales and revenues are increasingly becoming another casualty of the bitter armed conflict in this impoverished Arab state. Shanade James reports.
Yemen produces some of the world's finest and most expensive honey. But an ongoing civil war is damaging the industry. As honey sellers in the capital Sanaa know all too well (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HONEY SELLER, FAHD HAFTHALLAH, SAYING: "We used to export in the tons to foreign countries and now exports are very weak, about 20 percent of what they used to be, mainly due to the land, sea and air siege." (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HONEY SELLER, MUSHEER IBRAHIM, SAYING: "The situation has got worse. People can't afford to buy anything, let alone honey. This used to be my shop but I sold it for nothing." Yemen has been at war for almost a year. At least 6,000 people have been killed. And many more are moving away to escape clashes between rebels and government troops. So far over 1 million people have been displaced. Including some of the country's best beekepeers. (SOUNDBTE) (Arabic) HONEY SELLER, MURSHED AL ABBASI, SAYING: "Bee keepers have been forced to move around from one area to another to care for their bees and in search of safety and security and to escape the airstrikes and the problems." Yemen also has some competition. Last month Cuba added organic honey to its list of key agricultural exports, after fish products, tobacco and drinks. For decades it couldn't afford pesticides and is now reaping the benefits. Yemen will be hoping not to lose out but if the civil war continues it may have no choice.