Nausheen Barkat has a mission in life: to take organic products from her hometown in Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan to the world. Her dream began while she was still a student at the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Hunza. Now as an alumna she has already taken an important first step.
Wanting to do it the proper way, Shamsul undertook training from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, and started with just two beehives. When that proved successful, she trained other women in the area, who all joined her in the honey extraction venture, while Nausheen took on the responsibility of marketing the produce online. They settled on the name Asqurr for their honey, which fittingly means flower in Burushaski, one of the languages spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan. Today, a team of six women work on bee farming and honey extraction, while Nausheen takes care of the retail side of the business.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Nausheen is planning to enrol in honey extraction training herself so she can join her mother’s “honey extraction squad”, while also expanding the marketing and sales sides of the operation. Moreover, she wants to market other products from Gilgit-Baltistan, such as dry fruits as well as almond, walnut and apricot kernel oils, to a wide range of people. “Dry-fruit production is an essential part of the landscape of Gilgit-Baltistan, with many houses boasting a small orchard,” Nausheen says. “The fruits and their oils are a key part of our cuisine and my dream is for people to associate the region with top quality fruits and oils.”