The Kitui county government will support farmers undertaking bee keeping in order to improve honey production.
Accordingly, the County Governor, Charity Ngilu further urged the bee keepers across the county to register for immediate training on harvesting and handling of honey.
Addressing farmers from Mwingi Central Sub County in Mwingi town on Wednesday, Ngilu said it had come to her attention that beekeepers were not reaping maximum benefits from their honey.
“I recently visited Athi ward in Kitui south constituency and realized that many beekeepers have a lot of honey but they languish in poverty for lack of a market for their product and the right processing skills. I want them to be trained on how to produce high grade honey. We will also buy honey refining machines for them.
I want all beekeepers to register and also give a projection on the amount of honey they produce. Village administrators should register all honey producers in their areas so that we can have the data with us,” she said.
The governor added that the idea is to ensure that high-quality honey from Kitui is not only in the local market but also internationally.
Meanwhile, bee-keeping in the country has been practiced traditionally for many years.
Apart from honey, many other products can be obtained from the venture for example beeswax, pollen, propolis, bee venom, royal jelly and package bees, not forgetting that apiculture also enhances environmental conservation.
Bees are also good pollinators of plants thus playing a big role in biodiversity and improvement of crop yields.
Lack of knowledge on the suitable honey refining techniques and facilities coupled with lack of a reliable and direct market, has seen Kitui beekeepers remain paupers in the midst of plenty.
James Mutemi, who is a local bee farmer, said that he faces a lot challenges including lack of adequate skills on managing bees and handling hive products.
Research has shown that a properly managed honey industry in Kitui County could produce 400 metric tonnes of the commodity annually, which would conservatively translate to cumulative earning of Sh.80 million for the beekeepers.
It is also important to note that 80 per cent of Kenya consists of arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) which have high
potential to produce honey and apiculture is a major occupation in these areas.
By Momanyi Beavon