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    Savannah Honey

    By George Munene

    Kenyan honey exporter Savannah Honey is looking to recruit 7,000 contracted honey farmers across East Africa.

    Founded in 2013, the for-profit social enterprise based in Utawala markets honey for Sh500 a kilogram; bee pollen for Sh6,800 per kg;  propolis, used in the management of diabetes, and sores, at Sh1,900 a kg; bee wax at Sh700 per kg; royal jelly, a supplement/ additive in skin cream harvested from the secretion of queen bee cells for Sh38,00 per kg and bee venom for 4,000 per gram.

    The company which currently has 4,000 farmers in the region, contracts farmers for five years and is looking to tap not only into the burgeoning local honey market where one-kilogram costs between $4-$12 (Sh472-Sh1,416) but into the more lucrative international one-- a jar of honey in the Arab market can fetch almost double this amount. 

    The global honey market was valued at USD 8.58 billion in 2021. Increasing demand for nutritious food products (honey is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, calcium, and antioxidants) coupled with growing health concerns in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic during which honey gained wider acceptance as an effective medicine to treat acute cough and throat infection has seen the honey market predicted to grow at a CAGR of 5.2% from 2022 to 2030. 

    Related News: The story of bees and the liquid gold of an Ogiek farmer

    “Despite having ideal flora and climate for all-year bee-keeping, the practice still remains largely traditional in Kenya. This has meant the country produces a fraction of its potential, leading to an overreliance on Tanzanian imports. Savannah is looking to change this through commercialisation of the Kenyan honey sub-sector,” said the company’s CEO Kyalo Mutua, aka “the King of Bees”.

    To this end, Savannah’s contracted farmers are equipped with Langstroth beehives, currently on sale for Sh5500. With a multi-layered structure and removable frames, farmers can more than double their honey yields. Farmers harvest 10-20 kilograms three to four times annually. 

    With Langstroth hives, you do not destroy combs or crush the queen when harvesting avoiding bees absconding from their hives. This ensures there is uninterrupted production.

    The company harvests the first batch of honey for free. The farmer can then purchase a small plastic honey extractor for Sh28,000 or a metallic one for Sh35,000.  

    Savannah also offers training on modern beekeeping; apiary management; colony division as well as technical and marketing support.

    The firm ensures that all their client’s beehives are well colonised and have a strong healthy queen. Requeening (queen replacement) and repopulation (restocking a hive with less than 60,000 bees), which cost anywhere from Sh9,000 to Sh20,000 are also offerd at no cost.

    Related News: Improved bee hives key to raising farmer incomes

    Related News: Temporary bee hives help farmers utilise limited spaces

    Keeping bees can run concurrently/symbiotically with other agriculture practices and requires little in input costs, labour, time as well as space. This makes it an ideal source of passive income. 

    “With just 10×10 feet of space, a farmer can fit up to 20 langstroth beehives which have a greater earning potential than 20 acres of maize,” illuminated the King of bees during an interview.

    Contacts: +254 724052975

                    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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    IMG 20220704 WA0007

    By George Munene

    Jaick Agricultural Produce, an exporter of organic strawberries is looking to onboard more farmers onto its group of growers.

    The firm, which currently has 70 contracted farmers and another 32 trial farmers, is looking to increase on its seven to eight tons of strawberries exported every week to the UAE and Kuwait markets.

    “Organic/ minimal pesticide produced strawberries are in-demand in the international market. Using a system of integrated pest management (IPM) with chemical application as a last resort, we also reduce the production costs of our farmers,” explained Jaick CEO Benson Maina.

    The company which was founded in 2019 is located at Mountain Mall along Thika Road. Its stable of farmers are spread across the country; in Eldoret, Thika, Nyeri, Machakos, Kitengela, Kisii, etc, farming on as little as one-eighth of an acre to 10 acres. It also offers overall project management services to five diaspora farmers.

    Like all agriproducts, the price of strawberries fluctuates; one kilogram now costs Sh340-350, a Sh50 drop from a month ago. The strawberries are packed in punnets which are graded one through three. Grade one contains 12-14 fruits, grade two 14-20 fruits while grade three fits bean-sized strawberries.

    Related News: Strawberry runners from certified nurseries offer farmers a kilo a year

    Trial farmers are given training on strawberry farming as well as farm tours to provide them with a rounded view of what strawberry farming entails. Jaick growers also have access to on-demand agronomic help and strawberry plantlets.

    “Before anything, we conduct soil tests and establish the rate of nutrient distribution; this informs an individual farmer’s feeding program. We recommend that our growers use Chandler F1 strawberry cultivars,” Benson says.

    Chandlers are perrenial fruiters, vigorous, flavourful as well as glossy, large and firm. They are also resistant to common strawberry plant pathogens. However, they are susceptible to leaf spot, leaf scorch, red stele, and anthracnose.   

    The company sells potted seedlings for Sh70; these have transplanting viability of 95 per cent. Bare root plantlets have a 60 per cent transplanting viability and cost Sh50.

    An acre of strawberries holds 30,000 seedlings spaced 30cm by 30cm apart. Each plant has a production potential of 20 grams every week and a three-year lifespan.

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    Being 80 per cent water, strawberries are heavy drinkers but also require six to 10 hours of direct sunlight daily to thrive. Polythene mulch is recommended for organic growers to limit attacks by pests. To ward off birds, farmers should invest in erecting a bird cover net. 

    They should be grown in well-conditioned soils with well-decomposed manure.

    Virgin land is ideal for organic strawberries as pathogens are at a minimum. Alternate cropping also helps arrest this. Solanaceae family crops such as tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes of which strawberries are a member should be avoided.

    The fruits are harvested when half-ripe to avoid perishing while in transit.

    Related News: Strawberry jam production helps company find market for grade 2 fruits

    Related News: Gatundu farmer earns Sh640,000 a season from strawberry farming after quitting job

    For Evans Njoro, a Jaick farmer at Red Hill, Limuru, despite teething difficulties, there's obvious potential in strawberry farming; ”the initial cost of seedlings and learning how to tend to the plants were a major hindrance in scaling the business. Now that I can plow in profits and have learned how to care for the strawberries, I’ll no doubt be tasting the sweet fruits of this labor.”

    While the company’s major markets are Kuwait, UAE, and Comoros, it also serves domestic consumers. These include Naivas supermarkets, Highridge Wholesale Fruit Market, Farm to Feed Kenya, jam makers, and local fruit shops.

    Jaick Logistics: 0723146885

                                This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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    kabiyet dairies

    Kenyan farmers who join cooperative societies such as Ortum farmers’ cooperative society, to market their produce are more likely to double or triple their income due to improved bargaining power.

    David Roron, an onion farmer in West Pokot County for instance, has increased his earnings from Sh120, 000 to Sh350, 000 per acre per season after joining the Ortum farmers’ cooperative society in 2014. Initially, bulb onions were not grown for commercial purposes in the region and prospective farmers depended on relief food as maize production was too low to sustain the families.

    However, the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project moved in to empower farmers in the area in 2015 enabling Roron and 1339 other farmers to jointly form a cooperative to market their produce. Since then, farmers have been educated on the best farming practices allowing them to increase production from four tonnes to eight tonnes of onions per acre. Joint marketing efforts have also helped the farmers improve their bargaining power earning Sh50 per kilo of onions up from Sh20.

    Related News: Makueni mango farmer raises income through cooperative

    Related News: 25 cooperatives behind Nyeri County milk boom

    Farmers offloading milk at Kabiyet Dairies Company Ltd , a cooperative society owned by farmers in Nandi North

    In Nandi, Cyrus Kitur, a dairy farmer has increased his milk production from eight liters in 2016 to 32 liters per day in 2017 from his two cows after joining Kabiyet dairies cooperative society. Through the society he was to learn of silage making technologies which assured him of enough feed for his cows every season. His income thus rose from an average of Sh240 per day to Sh960 after selling the milk through the cooperative.

    In this, cooperative societies play an important role in reducing poverty levels, improving food security and generating employment opportunities.

    According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, cooperatives provide over 100m jobs worldwide with more than one billion members.

    Cooperatives are associations of people who unite voluntarily to meet their common economic needs via a joint enterprise that enables them improve bargaining power.

    Agricultural cooperatives play an important role in supporting small agricultural producers and marginalized groups such as young people and women. They empower their members economically and socially and create sustainable rural employment through business models that are resilient to economic and environmental shocks.

    Related News: Cooperative insurer launches new project to cover over 250,000 Kenyan farmers with livestock microinsurance

    In Kenya, cooperative societies have employed more than 300,000 people in the various sectors dominantly in the agricultural industry. The societies turnover in 2017 was Sh436bn representing 45 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

    “Cooperatives offer small agricultural producers opportunities and a wide range of services, including improved access to markets, natural resources, information, communications, technologies, credit, training and warehouses,” said Thomas Nyamongo, an agricultural extension Officer at the ministry of agriculture.

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