In 2016 after attending a local training seminar organized by Nyamira County extension officers, Albert Matara ventured into honey production to supplement his horticulture farming, a decision he does not regret to date.
The global honey market is currently worth Sh1.2 trillion ($12 billion), with the demand greatly exceeding supply. Kenya for instance, produces 7,300 tonnes of honey against a demand of 100,000 tonnes according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
To bridge the supply gap, Kenya imports honey worth approximately Sh23m every year from Tanzania, Egypt and Australia according to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics.
“During the training I learnt that beekeeping is a rewarding occupation that can be done on non-fertile land, has low labor requirements and encourages environmental conservation among other benefits,” said Matara.
According to the National Farmers Information Service, bee keeping requires little land (50 colonies require a ¼ acre) which does not have to be fertile. Honey is a source of non-perishable food while bees are good pollinator of plants and help improve crop yields by up to 70 per cent.
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Honey packaged by Matara ready for the market.
Matara started with one Langstroth beehive he bought from a local hive maker at Sh5,500, money he obtained from sale of kales and bananas from his quarter acre farm.
He placed the hive in a corner of the farm and after four months he harvested 10 kilograms of honey which he sold at Sh1,000 per kilo within his neighborhood.
“From the first proceeds, I realized that I could earn more beekeeping than I could ever have imagined, so I bought another Langstroth hive at Sh5,500 to expand my production capacity,” said Matara.
Matara inspecting his beehives.
From the two hives he harvested an average of 24 kilograms which he sold at Sh1,000 .
“After getting Sh24,000 from the two hives, I decided to invest more into the production as I found out that the farming was exciting and I could earn more,” he said.
To minimize costs he bought a grevillea tree at Sh5,000 to make beehives instead of buying ready-made ones.
In this, he paid Sh700 per hive as labor costs and made 10 hives which cost him Sh7,000.
Today, Matara harvests an average of 45 liters of honey monthly from his 7m by 15m piece of land. He has launched a youth group with 25 members who help in the production and packaging.
Earnings from his farm has enabled him move his son from a public school to an academy where he pays Sh25,000 annually.
He has also opened a shop to sell general foodstuffs such as sugar, rice, maize flour, cooking fat among other household items.
Matara can be reached on +254 728 621 968.