SIAYA, Kenya, Jan 5 – Production of honey is expected to grow significantly in Nyanza where more than 2,000 beehives were distributed by Equity Bank last year.
The beehives were given to farmers in Siaya, Bondo, Mbita point and Homa Bay in a pilot programme led by the Livestock development ministry, Honey Care Africa and Business Alliance Against Chronic Hunger, Baach.
Assessment by Honey Care Africa indicates improved yields at an average of 150 kilogrammes per 30 hives.
In Siaya County, honey harvesting started in earnest in November last year where the prospect of increased revenue prompted farmers to increase their number of hives.
Andrew Ouma Obawa who was one of the beneficiaries of five beehives and who later bought five more hives of 45,000 bees each said on average he harvests 12.5 kilogrammes of honey every two months.
This translates to an income of Sh9,375 every month and together with other farmers is now being encouraged to take up loans to expand their beekeeping business.
Honey Care CEO Madison Ayer said the company had established a buying centre at Siaya to ease collection of honey from the farmers whom he assured that the market for their honey is insatiable.
"Beekeeping is a very important business if you take it seriously. It means having the right tools to maximise your yields for serious income for you," he said.
The honey on the comb is delivered to the centre where the combs are uncapped before extracting the honey using manual centrifugal extractor. The hand driven machine has capacity to extract 500 kilogrammes of honey per day.
Despite an abundance of natural resources conducive to the production of high-quality honey, Kenya is a net importer of honey. Honey consumption has more than doubled in recent years, while domestic production had declined from 27,000 tonnes in 2005 to just 14,000 metric tonnes in 2008.
The majority of supply to meet increasing domestic demand now comes from Asia, Australia, and neighbouring African countries
The largest current constraint in the value chain has been the availability of financing for smallholder farmer producers to adopt modern techniques and equipment.