ILO supporting apiculture farmers in Kenya to find opportunity in crisis
For many years, apiculture has been an alternative farm-related activity in Garissa County, but honey production was primarily limited to local consumption
KENYA: For many years, apiculture has been an alternative farm-related activity in Garissa County, but honey production was primarily limited to local consumption, with only surplus offered for sale in the market.
During COVID-19, the demand for honey increased because it was used as a major ingredient in dawa, a hot drink made of honey, ginger, and lemon that was popularly consumed to alleviate symptoms such as cold and cough.
Because of the increased demand, prices rose, and local farmers realized the value honey could add to their income.
“The county has huge untapped potential of expanding beekeeping and honey production. Although production is still at a small scale, it was noticed that a significant number of pastoralists are embracing apiculture,” explains Lilyanne Velo, National Programme Coordinator for Enterprise Development, ILO PROSPECTS Kenya.
Garissa County, which is mostly arid and semi-arid (ASAL), has experienced increased desertification and rangeland depletion as a result of adverse weather conditions and overgrazing.
This has had an impact on pastoralist communities that rely primarily on livestock income.
“The apiculture value chain has potential to generate alternatives to cover some of these losses. It can create livelihoods for vulnerable groups of women and youth unable to step into nomadic pastoralism,” adds Lilyanne.
In December 2021, ILO PROSPECTS Kenya, in collaboration with World Food Programme and Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA), organized a one-week training of trainers (ToT) for four beekeepers from Garissa Township, Fafi, and Dadaab Sub-counties.
The training was intended to improve the skills of farmers' group leaders, who would then be able to provide technical assistance to their peers.
It also aimed to establish a county beekeepers' association to support the value chain actors' voices.
“In the past, honey has been produced traditionally and marketed for health imperatives. To realistically empower beekeepers, current production methods needed to be fused with modern farming and production skills providing more value to farmers. Thus, we included management of the apiary, honey harvesting, packaging and marketing in the training,” says Joel Asiago, Program Advisor, SOLO.