|Beekeeping is being promoted across many of Self Help’s area based programmes as a valuable source of additional income and family nutrition.|
But nowhere is apiculture more evolved than in Kenya, where Self Help funds a Beekeeping Extension Project operated out of Baraka Agricultural College, which has introduced beekeeping to several thousand small-holding farmers and rural communities for the first time.
As well as an income generating activity, beekeeping is a sustainable form of agriculture that is beneficial to the environment. It also provides important economic reasons for retaining natural habitats which might otherwise be under threat from widespread food and forage crop production.
Apart from honey, apiculture can also produce other valuable bi-products for producers - beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, bee venim and pollen amongst them.
Self Help Africa believes that beekeeping has a vital direct and indirect contribution to the development of many of the rural communities with whom it works.
As well as providing a direct source of family income, and improving family diet, the unseen role of bees as ‘pollinators’ is of immense value in rural areas. Indeed some estimates reckon that in warmer countries, as much as 75 per cent of all pollination of flowering plants is as a result of the foraging of bees.
The Baraka Beekeeping Extension Project promotes best practice in bee-keeping, and runs on-going training courses and programmes both at the college and in the field, in an effort to promote the merits of apiculture and to present farmers and other interested groups with the knowledge they will need if they are to consider establishing a beekeeping operation.
Hundreds of small-holding farmers have introduced hives to their homesteads following skills training at Baraka, while the extension workers are also supporting pastoralists (nomads), and dozens of village groups with community based apiculture projects. A ‘farmer to farmer’ training initiative started by the Beekeeping Unit at Baraka College is also having a major impact in informing and educating rural Kenyan communities in beekeeping practices and technologies.
In Self Help’s other countries of operation, savings and credit loans have enabled scores of women to purchase hives and start beekeeping as an income generating activity for the first time.