Evaluation of Apiculture in the Context of Food Security and Environmental Management in Kathonzweni Division, Makueni County, Kenya
Mutua, Caroline Nzula
MetadataShow full item record
Kenya holds a huge honeybee population and the ability of honey production is high due to different ecological conditions. Beekeeping therefore has the potential of promoting economic development by supplementing household incomes from selling of honey and other products from the hive. Investment in bee farming contributes to environmental conservation because it helps reduce pressure cropping exerts on agricultural land. Many dry areas of Kenya usually face acute food and nutrition insecurity and the devastating effects of drought and climate change. Bee farming thus becomes a possible option that is people and environment friendly. This study sought to evaluate the status of apiculture and how to increase its adoption so as to contribute to adequate food availability and environmental management in the famine prone area of Kathonzweni Division in Makueni County. The division experiences unreliable rainfall with most of the households practicing crop farming that relies on the rains thus they remain food insecure most of the time. Thus this study sought to evaluate the adoption of apiculture that does not rely on the rains to improve food security and conserve the environment in the division. A descriptive survey design targeting bee farmers and key informants was used to collect data. The key informants included, well established bee farmers, division agricultural officer and county agricultural officer. A sample size of 379 comprising household heads was arrived at using the table for determining sample sizes. Data was analyzed using SPSS Version 20 and Excel spread sheets. Results showed that only 25.8% of farmers in Kathonzweni division practiced apiculture. Reasons for practicing apiculture varied with 30.4 % of respondents indicating that that it was a viable source of income as they were able to be food secure throughout the year; about 30% felt that it supplemented other farming activities, while 23.7 % preferred it because it was more economical than tilling the land. Only 6.7% of respondents practiced apiculture for food, while 9.3 % did it as a way of conserving the environment. The challenges facing apiculture according to the respondents were; prolonged dry season , lack of skills on bee keeping by farmers, expensive bee hives, (mean=2.3536), lack of enough sensitization of farmers on bee keeping , and the attack of beehives by honey badgers. In conclusion from the obtained statistics, apiculture contributes to food security (30.4%) and environmental management (9.3%) and therefore it should be well supported by the relevant County and Central government agricultural offices to improve on food security and environmental conservation in Makueni County and other Counties with similar climatic conditions. In order to improve adoption of bee farming, respondents indicated the need to subsidize prices of beehives (25.0%), sensitization of general public on the benefits of apiculture (24.0%), provision of ready market by County Government of Makueni for honey and other beehive products (18.1%), financial support from government (19.2%) and afforestation of the land (13.6%).