Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Beekeeping Brings Financial Freedom in Kenya

Thanks to the efforts of nineteen women from the Lihalakha Women's Group in Kakamega, Kenya, the Sustainable Beekeeping Empowerment Project (SBEP) has made tremendous progress since its inception a early 2012. Prior to the project's execution, the self-dubbed “community-care group” exhibited strong commitment to managing an income generating activity that would serve as a means of financial empowerment and support. The FSD intern Supriya Prakash conducted interviews of several women's associations to assess their business experience, project goals, and group dynamics. At the conclusion of all surveys, Supriya's host NGO, the Western Education Advocacy Empowerment Program (WEAEP), plucked Lihalakha from twenty-two similar women's associations.

The idea for an apiary unfolded in May as Moses Mckaya, a Kenyan intern with prior experience with honey production, noted how lucrative the industry is in Western Kenya. Aside from constructing the hives and training the beekeepers, caring for a bee farm is quite manageable. Bees are efficient and hardy insects, so the women's primary responsibilities are harvesting and selling the honey.

FSD's Peter Ingosi, the former Program Director in Kakamega, introduced Honey Care Africa to the project to install the hives on Lihalakha's compound, an often tedious and sticky process. In the symbiotic union between Honey Care and Lihalakha, Honey Care staff will train the women on harvesting techniques and hive management while Lihalakha will become one of their honey suppliers.

In early July 2012, the hives were constructed and placed around the compound to attract and capture bees, which can take up to two weeks. After bee colonization, Lihalakha's seven beehives can be formally placed on the apiaries, marking the beginning of the harvesting phase. In addition to hive construction, the projects also serves to further strengthen Lihalakha's group dynamics through collective seed-planting. From an economic standpoint, the initiative expedites honey production—and provides a source of sustainable income in the time to come.