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Kenya: Honey producer partnering with small-scale farmers

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Kenyan honey producer, Honey Care Africa, has trained thousands of small-scale farmers to practice commercial beekeeping. Dinfin Mulupi reports

Amaan Khalfan, Honey Care Africa CEO

Amaan Khalfan, Honey Care Africa CEO

Beekeeping is one of the few economic activities suitable in Kenya‘s semi-arid areas where other forms of agriculture tend to struggle.

Kenya’s potential for apiculture development is estimated at over 100,000 tonnes of honey and 10,000 tonnes of beeswax per annum. At the moment only about one fifth of this potential is being exploited.

Various challenges have made it difficult for farmers to fully harness the opportunities that lie in beekeeping. Among these challenges are the inadequate training in beekeeping technologies for farmers and staff, insufficient research on apiculture, inaccessibility of credit for farmers as well as lack of development of quality standards.

Yet, despite all these hurdles, Honey Care Africa has proved to be an innovative and rapidly expanding Kenyan enterprise established expressly to increase the income of rural farmers. Through its “Money for Honey” programme, which trains farmers in commercial beekeeping and then buys their honey at a guaranteed price, Honey Care Africa has doubled the income of several thousand small-scale farmers.

Honey Care Africa was started in 2000 to promote sustainable community-based beekeeping initiatives in Kenya.

Chief executive officer of the company, Amaan Khalfan, told How we made it in Africa that the success of the firm is driven by the fact that it offers a comprehensive package of services (ranging from training to start-up financing), technologies and market access for small-scale framers.

“We realised that a lot of honey produced in the country was being sold on the roadside of major highways. This meant that the hygiene of the honey was questionable. The farmers selling the honey were also generating very little profits, making beekeeping activities appear to be less lucrative,” says Khalfan.

Honey Care Africa staff helping farmers in rural Kenya harvest honey

Honey Care Africa staff helping farmers in rural Kenya harvest honey

Honey Care Africa works with 10,000 small-scale framers across the country. It guarantees market access for the honey produced by small-holder farmers, which it collects and pays for on the spot. The company also develops beeswax in a variety of sizes as well as other wax-related products such as candles.

“Beekeeping provides a second and possibly third source of income to small-scale farmers. Another advantage is that the farmers do not need large tracts of land since beekeeping requires minimal land,” says Khalfan.

He explains that processed and packaged honey is sold locally as well as shipped to the US, Japan, and European markets.

According to Khalfan, local demand for honey has failed to pick up. “In 2004 we had only four different brands of honey in the market; currently we have about 29 different brands, yet the demand and market for honey has failed to grow,” he notes.

New techniques

Khalfan says that previous methods of honey harvesting excluded women from the practice since they could not climb trees to reach the beehives. This led to the introduction of the Langstroth hive.

The advantage of the Langstroth hive over traditional hives, he explains, is that the bees build honeycomb into frames, which can be moved easily because the frames are designed so that the bees do not attach wax honeycomb between the frames or to the walls of the hive. This ability to move the frames allows the beekeeper to manage the bees easily and efficiently.

Khalfan adds that the Langstroth hive is also more efficient; where the traditional beehive can produce 10 kilogrammes of honey in a year, the new hive handles up to 30 kilogrammes in a year.

Challenges

The firm has, however, faced many hurdles, especially in maintaining the quality of its product. “It has been a challenge to ensure that the honey received has not been adulterated. Some farmers initially used molasses and liquid sugar to try and increase the quantity of their supplies. This is very bad since our products are exported abroad and have to meet international standards,” he says.

The firm has also been facing competition from Tanzania where farmers are paid less, allowing for the honey to be sold at cheaper prices.

He adds that other challenges arise from the logistics of shipping honey to international markets, which are time consuming and costly.

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  • Gaurav Gupta

    Hi,

    I m a exporter, supplier, distributor of honey. If u have any requirement then pls let me with the following details-

    -Type of Honey required
    -Quantity
    -Quality

    Thks and Regards
    Gaurav Gupta
    Delhi
    India
    Email Id-shaleencreations90@gmail.com
    Skype-gaurav.gupta558

  • http://www.lankoff.pl/pl/oferta/ Olga

    We are the only manufacturer of rollers to manufacture comb foundation of beeswax in Poland, … We do fight for different cells bee 4.7; 4,9; 5.1; 5.4. Production of bee comb foundation is good business. The machines are very qualitative and efficient.

  • http://www.bakeryschool.co.ke Joseph Maina Ngumi

    Our company is called Multiple Exporters Limited.
    It has 10 modern Top Bar hives with bee colonies.
    We are due to make our first Honey harvest in March 2015.
    How can we become your suppliers? We plan to increase the number of hives and honey production in the near future after getting a steady market for our current production. How soon can we establish a seller/buyer relation with you?

  • http://twitter.com/augustusnzuki augustusnzuki

    Good job, where can iget u in meru

  • nancy nyagaya

    i would like to start bee keeping immediately through a youth group.am based in Kisumu county Seme sub county.
    Kindly advice.,

  • Judith Olimba Otanga

    I am a Kenyan from Vihiga County, Western Kenya. I have land that is not very productive and I am interested in Bee Keeping. How can you assist me?
    Judith

  • chuani

    just started on be keeping bought the bee boxes , so far no bees have being attracted , whats the way forward the guy who was on contract told us the bee wil just come plz help its now two weeks

  • Nixon kokita

    Am interested in bee keeping, tell me how I should begin

  • Marisa osodo

    It is very interesting to read about bee keeping. I would like to start commercial beekeeping on my piece of land. Please give me some information on who i can talk to tel.no for technical advice, the marketing options available, who will buy my honey? I reside in Kitale and have 5 acres of land.I would also like to visit a successful bee keeping project so that I can learn how it works.

    • James Karanja

      I am from Kitale and a Beekeeper and trainer. If interested we can communicate.

  • Richard

    Now that you say, liguid sugar and molasses produce bad honey what is the alternative to have high yields.Secondly i have agood space that can take upto over 3000 hives do u grant hives for abeginer? Pls let me know.

  • Charlie Phillips

    I am a volunteer for Children of Hope Orphanages in Kenya. We have 88 children in two homes. One near Nairobi with 58 children and has approximately 50 acres. The other is near Kitale, which is in the northwest part of Kenya near Uganda. This one has 30 children now, with a capacity of 50. This one has approximately 10 acres.
    I’ve been helping to raise funds for these children.
    I’m interested in what you’re doing with bee keeping and have many questions.
    Is bee keeping profitable? What’s the initial cost?
    How many acres are required? How does an organization get on your list?
    Thank you
    Charlie Phillips
    Parker Colorado, USA
    E-mail CEP9@LIVE.COM

  • wuala paita

    hi,am wuala in kajiado county i have been longing to start beekeeping but not knowing how and what should have again do your company support local producers in anyway i.e supply of hives.thanks reply via my email

  • mercy

    hi,
    i have a lot of honey from kitui please would you assist me in selling it.
    Thanks

  • sheila

    Hi patrick,
    I have a large amount of honey.
    please email me so we can talk.

    • mrs badat

      Would like to know more about honey supplier,thank you

  • jitendra bhatt

    I m from india looking for direct seller of organic HONEY in sufficient quanty.

    • Yiota

      I have sufficient supply of organic honey.
      I will be able to assist you with huge quantities.
      You can e-mail me so we can discuss this further.

      • anderson

        give out your contact we do business thanks

  • iven Shem Dianga

    How do i start?I need the specifications of the modern bee hive,cost per each and volume of honey produce as well as price of honey per litre or kg.

    • Aleem Shabazz

      Our company name is the Northeast Health Resource Center. Your company was highlighted on a cable progam called African Report. Very well organized company!!! We would like to partner with your company to bring Honey Care Afeica to the USA. We have offices in Portland,Oregon and in Sacramento, California. We do have African associate in our organization. We hope to here from you soon

      • Aleem Shabazz

        Please excuse error HoneyCare Africa
        Aleem Shabazz

  • mwanaidi jaoko

    I am mwanaidi who resides in western kenya, butere specifically and would like to do bee-keeping but have no idea how to go about it. Please come to my rescue.Thanks in advance for your support in this matter.

  • Patrick Obegi

    Hello I am Project co-ordinator Patrick working with Exploits gospel project and we have a community project of bee keeping in Masai mara and we have alot of honey for processing and marketing. If there is any way you can help please contact me through my email address

    • Gitonga

      Patrick, do you sell to private buyers?

    • Benson

      Patrick,
      Do you have enough quantity for export? Because i might be interested in sourcing for a market abroad.

    • Farhaad Khan

      Dear Patrick i am based in durban south africa i am thinking of opening a honey pakage company and i am looking to buy honey in big conteti my direct mobile no is 0027789578748 if u could please contact me and we will take it further
      regards
      Farhaad khan

      • Kurui kipkemboi

        Farhaad, please contact me for unlimited supply of Golden brown African honey

        • anderson

          am ready to buy please give out your contact we do business thanks

          • mutwiri roy

            am in meru…an I do smale scale bee farming…I harvest an average of 500kgs mid year and onther one at end year.but I need a market to sell it..contact me if u can help get one.

  • JAMES MWANGI

    Hae,iam an eiectrician and intrested in bee farming.I wish to join your team.FOR a starter i need your mordern beehive specification.My location is in mathioya in muranga dsrict.also would like to know your terms of partnership.