The use of pesticides to control the destructive fall-army-worms in parts of the country has led to mass-deaths of bees.
This has adversely affected honey production within Baringo County, which is the leading producer of the product in the country.
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has attributed the crisis to the over-use of the pesticides by maize farmers while controlling the worm.
The research institute while playing down the crisis has termed the deaths as a ‘mistake’ which was unforeseen when farmers embarked on the use of the chemicals.
According to KARLO Director General Dr. Eliud Kireger, farmers had been advised to stop the use of chemicals in farming.
He noted that once the worm hit the country, farmers moved for all forms of chemicals to control it leading to the deaths of the bees.
“Bees are very critical in cross-pollination but we have recorded cases of deaths in Baringo due to excess use of chemicals to control the fall-army-worm,” he said.
Kireger noted that the country's annual production stood at 14,000 metric tonnes against a demand of 30,000 metric tonnes.
In a bid to bridge the gap, the senior researcher said that the country which had the potential of producing 100,000 metric tonnes was importing the product from Tanzania and Australia.
“The country earns Sh4.5b from honey every year and we have to import the deficit yet we have the ability to produce more if farmers are supported,” he said.
Speaking in KALRO farm in Naivasha during training for farmers, he attributed the low production to poor harvesting methods and use of traditional bee-hives.
He added that the Ministry of agriculture was working on a policy to address the issue of standards which had affected the products sold in supermarkets.
“For years this sector that employs hundreds has been forgotten but we have embarked on a program with the World Bank to train the farmers on value addition,” he said.
On his part, the director Api-culture Institute in Marigat Dr Remy Tuey projected that the country’s annual production would hit 35,000 metric tonnes in five years.
He admitted that the use of chemicals by farmers to control other pests had impacted negatively in terms of honey production in various counties.
“The critical elements for honey production are the pollen and water and we are training farmers on modern bee-keeping methods so that honey production can increase,” he said.