Youth in Mt. Elgon Sub County, have been challenged to take up self-employment especially Agribusiness as a source of income to improve their living standards.
To support this cause, team leader Samarie Cherotich of The Mountain Berean Farmers’ Association, has come up with a program where youth groups are provided with bee hives and passion fruit seedlings as a startup for the venture.
Cherotich said The Mountain Berean Farmers’ Association which was started in 2013 is an organization that is focused on using modern technology of production to yield high quality agricultural products both locally and internationally.
She noted the organization also ensures compliance with market food safety and certification requirements besides offering other agricultural services like: extension support, agricultural consultancy and aggregation as well as market linkages.
On the other hand, the Association also provides its farmers with both yellow and purple passion fruit and tree tomatoes seedlings, bulb onions, capsicum, among other vegetable seeds.
The group has majored in giving registered youth groups bee hives and passion fruit seedlings mainly because of the climatic conditions in the region as well as its geographical state.
Emmanuel Murambi, one of the beneficiaries, acknowledged that not only has he received three hives, but he has also been educated on the best location to practice apiculture on his farm.
“I am a proud bee keeper since I joined Mountain Berean. The experts have visited my farm and surveyed it then proposed the best location for keeping my hives so that bees could easily start their colony and also not attack people,” he narrated, further observing that bees are normally not attracted to just any random trees.
“From the expert point of view, bees are attracted to the smell of indigenous trees and from my own experience, honey gotten from such bees is far much sweeter and of better quality than others,” he divulged.
Kiprop Kiboi, is also a beneficiary of this youth group and he says besides the hives and seedlings, they also receive training on how to manage their projects to achieve maximum yields.
According to Shadrack Omondi, an Extension Officer and Agroconomist, they have already set dates for the upcoming training which will take place early in the month of April.
Our group members have already been informed about the courses and registration has already taken place; among the courses undertaken are bee keeping and product harvesting, honey processing as well as vegetable crop production,” he explained.
Mountain Berean has also benefited the community around by signing contracts with the local carpenters to that they can make hives to be given to farmers.
Job Okiru is a carpenter who makes hives that are distributed to the group members and he confirms that the deal has so far been fruitful. “We sell the hives at Sh5, 000 each and most of the time we get readily available market for our product,” he revealed.
However, he cited the state of economy as a major challenge in their business since many farmers cannot afford to purchase more hives because of their low living standards and the ever-rising economy in the country.
Cherotich said like any other business, there never lacks hurdles. Among the challenges facing Mountain Berean are shortage of grafted seedlings which are most preferred by farmers, low quality honey especially due to lack of hive inspection and farmers’ proactiveness, for example, they do not buy more hives after being given one for free.
Omondi further advised that farmers should seek professional services to advise them technically and avoid losses.
“As for bee farmers for example, we inspect their apiary at a price of Sh400 per hive whereas for planters, we are doing irrigation from river banks as we look for more scions to increase the number of grafted seedlings,” he said.
Omondi challenged youths in the region to be responsible and take up the initiative to increase their produce and not only rely on giveaway saying this is a lucrative business with promising economic prospects.
By Douglas Mudambo and lsabella Maua