Ye­men’s prized honey in­dus­try stung by civil war

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

SANA’A, Ye­men — Ye­men’s ru­inous civil war has taken its toll on one of the im­pov­er­ished coun­try’s prized ex­ports — its cov­eted honey.

Thick, rich and as dense as liq­uid gold, Ye­men’s honey has tra­di­tion­ally been sought af­ter in the oil-rich Gulf, where it is seen as a de­li­cious and nat­u­ral way to boost one’s im­mune sys­tem.

The best of Ye­men’s honey, known as Sidr, comes from the Hadra­mawt re­gion in the south­east, which has been gripped by un­rest for years.

An al Qaeda af­fil­i­ate has long roamed the area, and for the last two and a half years, Ye­men has been mired in a war pit­ting Shi­ite rebels and al­lied army units against the in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment and a Saudi-led coali­tion.

The war has killed over 10,000 civil­ians, dis­placed about 3 mil­lion peo­ple, and pushed Ye­men to the brink of famine. An out­break of cholera has killed 2,000 peo­ple and in­fected some 500,000, ac­cord­ing to the U.N.’s World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The bee­keep­ing in­dus­try has mean­while suf­fered a 70 per­cent drop in pro­duc­tion as it has been cut off from lu­cra­tive ex­port mar­kets. War­ring par­ties have carved up the in­te­rior of the coun­try, and the coali­tion has blocked all of Ye­men’s air and sea­ports.

Ship­ping costs have surged since the war be- gan, and only a trickle of Ye­men’s honey has flowed through overland cross­ings to Saudi Ara­bia, the big­gest im­porter.

The honey sells for twice as much abroad, so the drop in ex­ports has hit pro­duc­ers hard. Abroad, Sidr honey can cost more than $120 for 500 grams (18 ounces), while inside Ye­men the same amount sells for $10.

“We are suf­fer­ing a lot,” said Fares al Houry, who runs a honey store in Sanaa, Ye­men’s cap­i­tal.

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