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Lack of markets a hurdle to bee farming in Baringo

RIFT VALLEY
By Robert Kiplagat | May 30th 2013

By Robert Kiplagat

Baringo, Kenya: Bee farmers in Baringo County are struggling to find a market despite producing high quality honey.

They also lack support with inputs like modern beehives. Bee keeping is one of the county’s top economic activities next to rearing livestock and general agriculture.

In the county, lowland areas such as Kerio Valley, Marigat, Chemolingot in East Pokot and Loboi have immense potential for producing high quality honey for export.

Farmers are now more vocal, expressing their concern over neglect of the sector.

Sustainable

“Most bee keepers still use old methods such as log hives, which hold small amounts of honey. We also do not have reliable and sustainable markets to sell our honey,” said Mr John Yegon, one of the farmers in Sandai.

He said unscrupulous middlemen have taken advantage of the farmers’ lack of access to reliable markets to exploit them by buying their honey at throwaway prices. He appealed to the county government to address the issue by connecting farmers directly to markets.

Recently, the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) built a Sh17 million bee-keeping production plant. The facility will produce modern beehives and honey harvesting equipment to be sold to farmers.

Speaking during the commissioning of the facility at Kabarnet, KVDA managing director David Kimosop said ut is expected to produce between 500 to 10,000 beehives annually. But he noted that the beehives would also be sold in neighbouring counties such as Elgeyo/Marakwet along Kerio Valley.

Baringo County Governor Benjamin Cheboi hailed the initiative, saying the county has immense potential and his government will offer loans to the youths to buy beehives and start producing honey as a way of fighting joblessness.

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