Shortage of honey in the market prompted Gerald Mutunga, a Journalist by profession to venture into honey production to reduce the deficit.
According to the United States Agency for International Development, Kenya produces 7,300 tonnes of honey against a demand of 100,000 tonnes.
“In 2015, a media friend approached me in the office and enquired where to get natural honey. My homeland Makueni County is associated with honey and so he did not feel lost to ask me. Unfortunately I did not give the answer he expected. We got in to exploring the honey business in Kenya and that’s where I got my idea from,” said Mutunga.
Mutunga, a Media Content Producer at Africa Choice Media Services found out that it was difficult to trust any honey product in the market, and thus, dealing with bee keepers was the ideal thing. After almost three months waiting for one liter supply from a farmer he was referred to, it hit his mind that if that’s what it take to get natural honey , then he could try it out and be more efficient and trust worthy. That’s how his honey production journey began.
“I went home and assembled a locally made beehive using local wood using YouTube as my teacher,” said Mutunga.
“Back in Nairobi, I got impatient and I could not wait for bees to colonize my hive and have the first harvest, I set out on a journey to find bee keepers in our village and bought all their supplies, I only got five kilos at Sh1,500 and packed them into one liter soda bottles which I sold at Sh1,000 per liter. In two days I was out of stock and got news orders waiting for delivery,”
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Ukweli brand of honey produced by Mutunga’s company.
Currently, he owns 27 bee hives set at his father’s land, out of which 22 are colonized; he is assured of getting two to four kilos of raw honey per hive every three months.
In 2018, he registered his company, Ukweli Brands limited that produces the kweli brand of honey. A kilo of this produce goes for Sh700. He has three employees, one for delivery to clients, one for marketing through social media and another takes care of the hives.
“Our clientele are mainly referrals looking to get unadulterated products from suppliers they can trust. From Initial five liters stock, we currently stock up to three tonnes. Technology is our main link to new clients with sales coming from online platforms like Facebook and Jumia,” said Mutunga.
“Kweli Honey has high antioxidant activity and is rich in vitamins and other minerals making it one of those foods that can benefit you daily. Raw, unfiltered honey is beneficial because it is minimally processed, keeping its nutritional profile in-tact,”
Mutunga also sources honey from farmers at Sh300 per kilo. Currently he has 37 registered farmers who supply him with the produce. Of this, two are from Baringo; three from Tanzania and the rest are based in Makueni.
Most of the farmers he gets are referrals and some are from his Facebook page, Kweli Honey.
“Once a farmer informs us that he has beehives and wants to supply honey, we usually ensure we are present at the ground during harvesting time, this enables us to ensure that the produce is not contaminated and is of high quality,” he said.
Harvested honey is then taken to the government chemist to ascertain the quality. In this, a farmer is paid after his/her honey is certified to be fit for consumption.
Farmers can contact Mutunga on +254 724 771 202.