Farmers in Africa have been particularly affected by the adverse effects of climate change. The case is not different for the average farmer in Makueni County, Kenya. The region is semi-arid therefore crop production does not thrive as much, and that is why most locals turned to bee keeping as a source of income.
Proactive Merit seeks to engage the community in contract farming for honey, which is a key component in the products that the company produces. The company buys raw honey from bee keepers, packages it, and sells in the urban areas. Acacia trees common in the Makueni area are usually felled for charcoal. The company is addressing this challenge by encouraging farmers to suspend bee hives on the acacia trees and earn better returns. One acacia tree produces 5 bags of charcoal and each is sold for Ksh 350, while three hives on an acacia tree can generate Ksh 18000.
According to the Wheen Bee Foundation, Beekeeping is essential, not just for honey and other hive products but also for the pollination services provided by bees.
A good case study is Australia where agricultural output is actually dependent on honey bees! Numerous studies show that the addition of bees at a time when plants are flowering significantly increases both the yield and quality of crops. Honey and other hive products generate around $90 million a year in Australia, but the contribution of honey bees to crop production is estimated to be around $4-6 billion a year.
In addition, the sale of honey to the company will generate extra income for suppliers in the community and with expansion of the company’s business more jobs will be created.
The project will impact the social, economic and environmental spheres of the Makueni people.