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Women’s group defies cultural beliefs to keep honey bees

SMART HARVEST
By Atambo Ngoko | April 2nd 2016
Weseyo women group members demonstrating how to uncap the honey combs

A group of 17 women from Kipsogon, Baringo County, are breaking barriers and setting the trend by demystifying the myth that bee keeping is a man’s role.

The women, aged between 24 and 70, have embarked on beekeeping to boost their incomes and provide for their families.

Under the Weseyo Women Group, they are members of a beekeeping initiative run by Hand in Hand Eastern Africa.

The initiative encourages women to take up the venture as a commercial activity for economic sustainability and alleviate poverty through enterprise and job creation.

Before starting the venture, the women attended advanced training forums on capital requirements, how to construct hives and use machinery for higher production, honey harvesting, packaging and marketing.

Each member owns a langstroth beehive known for higher production and easy to manage compared to the traditional ones. “We never knew that we could own beehives, because, traditionally it is a man’s job and many of us were afraid to start the venture. Through the training, we have gained good knowledge and we are looking forward to our first harvest,” said Pascaline Cherotich, the group’s chairlady.

The group owns all the honey harvesting equipment such as the centrifuge machine for extracting honey, a bee suit, honey strainer, the uncapping fork and tank and the bottling bucket.

“We will hire this equipment out to other groups who want to keep honey,” says Cherotich.

The group has trained and hired a young man to help them harvest the honey. Baringo’s ecosystem is favourable for beekeeping because of its natural forests and vegetation.

Besides bee keeping, individual members have started small enterprises such as detergent making, cake baking and fruit selling to supplement their incomes.

They also operate a table banking system through which they loan each other money to help expand their businesses.

The venture has helped turn around their livelihoods as well as provide food, clothing, quality healthcare and school fees.

Hand in Hand CEO Pauline Ngari says they intend to start a honey processing centre in Baringo County. “This is the best investment for the women and the future is bright. We are looking at starting a bee farmers’ honey processing centre that will bring together all beekeepers to act as a platform for advancing their needs as well as enhance and increase honey production in the country,” she said.

So far, the honey initiative has 820 bee keepers, 80 per cent being women and has seen the distribution of over 250 modern beehives.

 

 

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