Honey is five times more expensive than oil and its demand is increasing not only in Africa itself but all over the world.
Priced at between 500 shillings and 1,100 shillings per kilogram, in Kenya, its costs at least five times what a liter of petrol does, and in the Arab market, a jar of honey can fetch almost double this amount, according to statistics by Savannah Honey.
Since independence, Kenya has had a deficit in honey production which leads to over 80 percent of honey processed in Kenya being imported from Tanzania.
As the world observed the World Bee Day on Tuesday, May 20, Savannah Honey said that Kenya has favorable climatic conditions for beekeeping like other leading honey producing countries like Ethiopia, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
There is a shortage of honey and although Kenya has the potential to at least bridge part of it, little effort has been made in this direction.
“Bee-keeping in Kenya has been practiced traditionally for many years. However only 20% of the country’s honey production potential (estimated at 100,000 metric tonnes) has been tapped,” argued Evelyn Nguku, the Director of Research and Development at Savannah Honey Many farmers in Kenya are yet to commercialize honey production as the sector is still regarded as a preserve of the poor. This has been the case while there is a huge market for the product in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
According to a survey by the firm, there is great potential for Kenyan bee farmers to make money as the country leaks every flowering season with over 80% untapped nectar. It notes that farmers are also languishing in poverty due to lack of proper knowledge skills, modern hives, and other essential tools vital for beekeeping.
It adds that beekeeping is a unique practice that works well with other farm practices since less time is needed on management and supervision. Further, the firm says the country lies within the best climatic pattern year round which is excellent for beekeeping.
With farmers across the country have downed tools from non-profiting crop cultivation on harsh areas and looking for better and affordable ideas, beekeeping can be the next frontier. To bridge this, Savannah Honey has been involved in empowering interested beekeepers for the last seven years by offering training on modern beekeeping, provision of Langstroth beehives and other beekeeping equipment and management of the apiaries.
It also provides bees (Colony Division) and technical support as well as the marketing of the honey. The Langstroth beehive uses a multi-layered structure and removable frames to encourage bees to build their hives in an orderly fashion and make it easy for beekeepers to harvest honey.