Business, Economy

Here Are Five Ways We Can Make Beekeeping A Goldmine for Sustainable Entrepreneurship in Kenya

Last week, I had the eye-open­ing expe­ri­ence of vis­it­ing an inno­v­a­tive api­cul­ture facil­i­ty in Kisarazu, Japan. This facil­i­ty pro­duces 25 dif­fer­ent mind-bog­gling prod­ucts for the mar­ket, empha­siz­ing the immense adapt­abil­i­ty and poten­tial that lies with­in beekeeping.

Bee­keep­ing, sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly known as api­cul­ture, is blos­som­ing with mod­ern inno­va­tions, and there­fore emerg­ing as an entre­pre­neur­ial gold­mine. In places like Kenya, records indi­cate a buzzing poten­tial to pro­duce more than 25,000 MT of hon­ey, yet cur­rent pro­duc­tion stands at just 5,000 MT a year. In con­trast, Ethiopia pro­duces about 50,000 MT, posi­tion­ing itself at a high­er lev­el in the glob­al api­cul­ture market—a mar­ket pro­ject­ed to reach $16 bil­lion by 2029.

Now, envi­sion the scenic land­scapes of Kenya which host over 117 cel­e­brat­ed water tow­ers rich in flo­ra and home to diverse bee species which offer a promis­ing ecosys­tem for bee­keep­ing. If almost every Kenyan home­stead could be sup­port­ed to set up a bee­hive and har­vest hon­ey, just imag­ine the rip­ple effect it could cre­ate across our Nation’s economy.

Of course, the ques­tion is, how do we har­ness this potential?

Main­ly, con­sid­er the vast range of prod­ucts ema­nat­ing from api­cul­ture name­ly, hon­ey, beeswax, propo­lis, roy­al jel­ly, bee ven­om, and even the live bees them­selves. Each of these prod­ucts holds a spe­cif­ic val­ue, cater­ing to var­i­ous indus­tries such as food, cos­met­ics, med­i­cine, and agriculture.

Take hon­ey, for instance. Not only can it be sold as a deli­cious nat­ur­al sweet­en­er, but its med­i­c­i­nal prop­er­ties make it invalu­able in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Beeswax, on the oth­er hand, finds its place in cos­met­ics, can­dles, and even fur­ni­ture pol­ish. Then there’s propo­lis, which is renowned for its med­i­c­i­nal prop­er­ties and is becom­ing increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar in skin­care prod­ucts worldwide.

For Kenya, a land known for its entre­pre­neur­ial spir­it, these prod­ucts can be the cor­ner­stone of a new econ­o­my. I sug­gest that cor­po­rate insti­tu­tions should con­sid­er invest­ing in api­cul­ture not only to pro­vide a lucra­tive return but also as cor­po­rate social invest­ment ven­tures. For Coun­ty Gov­ern­ments, sup­port­ing com­mu­ni­ties in set­ting up prac­ti­cal bee­keep­ing projects can serve as a dual-pur­pose strat­e­gy towards pro­mot­ing sus­tain­able liveli­hoods and sup­port­ing the local econ­o­my. Addi­tion­al­ly, such ini­tia­tives that eas­i­ly relate with the local’s sup­port in con­ser­va­tion efforts. I addi­tion­al sug­gest that Indi­vid­u­als, par­tic­u­lar­ly the youth, should view bee­keep­ing as a viable and reward­ing career option. With the right train­ing and resources­from bee­keep­ers asso­ci­a­tions one can not only derive per­son­al finan­cial ben­e­fits but con­tribute pos­i­tive­ly to com­mu­ni­ty welfare.

More­over, for eco­pre­neurs, bee­keep­ing is a beck­on­ing field. Social invest­ments in such ven­tures are not only envi­ron­men­tal­ly sus­tain­able but also offer vast employ­ment opportunities.

So, be it as it may, how do we bring this vision to being?

First­ly, edu­ca­tion and train­ing are key to equip indi­vid­u­als with the nec­es­sary skills and knowl­edge, trans­form­ing them from rook­ies to expert beekeepers.

Sec­ond­ly, infra­struc­ture is impor­tant because acces­si­ble and afford­able bee­keep­ing equip­ment can reduce entry bar­ri­ers for aspir­ing mul­ti­ple beekeepers.

Third­ly, mar­ket­ing and brand­ing while cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the ‘Made in Kenya’ mark can dri­ve demand both local­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly. This I expe­ri­enced first-hand when I arrived with Kenyan hon­ey in Japan.

Fourth­ly, research and inno­va­tion can lead to prod­uct diver­si­fi­ca­tion, ensur­ing that bee­keep­ers max­i­mize their yield and profit.

Fifth, sup­port sys­tems through estab­lish­ing coop­er­a­tives or asso­ci­a­tions can pro­vide bee­keep­ers with col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing pow­er, ensur­ing fair prices and mar­ket access.

After wit­ness­ing first­hand, the work my daugh­ter Michelle is doing with her hon­ey pro­duc­tion under the brand ‘Bam­boo Hon­ey’, I am thor­ough­ly con­vinced that the future of api­cul­ture in Kenya is bright and holds immense poten­tial. With the right mix of sup­port, inno­va­tion, and entre­pre­neur­ship, Kenya can estab­lish itself as a glob­al leader in apiculture.

The hum of bees is indeed the expres­sion of a green future. I there­fore invite us to inten­si­fy this expres­sion, mak­ing it res­onate across Kenya and beyond as we cre­ate Green Africa Vil­lages, one vil­lage at time. Let’s sow the seeds for a green future where bees, peo­ple, and economies thrive in harmony.Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Founder and Chair­per­son of Green Africa Foun­da­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion that was found­ed in the year 2000 that cham­pi­ons Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment in Africa.

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