The people of Mukogodo Forest and surrounding communities are traditional pastoralists (and some hunter-gatherers), yet many of them practice additional forms of agriculture. Beekeeping and bee enterprise is thought to have great potential for local residents if a good beekeeping cooperative can engage effectively in all things “bee”.
Reliance on rain fed agriculture, like any other area, makes farmers in Mukogodo vulnerable to climate shocks and changes. Historical records indicate that the average temperatures have increased significantly in the past twenty years, and the number of heat and drought-stressed days are projected to continue to increase leading to diminishing pastures and browse.
Livelihood diversification is therefore an option to enhance smallholder resilience in the face of climate change. Mukogodo has diverse agro-ecological zones that include upper highland zones, lower highland zones, and low land zones both suitable for beekeeping in different seasons. Beekeeping seems like a smart option for land use and livelihoods.
Many of you know that beekeeping has been promoted by agencies and organizations as an income generator and is thought to improve both conservation of biodiversity and livelihoods. But the beekeeping sector is too often characterized by mismanagement, poor bee husbandry, no value addition, and no understanding of honey and bee product markets. That’s why most beekeeping projects fail. Apiculture in Mukogodo Forest and its surrounds must address these shortcomings if it is to succeed.
It is in this light that the Laikipia (Wildlife) Forum and ILMAMUSI Community Forest Association, with the financial support of the Food and Agriculture Organization, are working to enhance the livelihoods and socio-economic circumstances of our local beekeepers. We are targeting group organization and skills for: the improved production and quality of honey, other bee products, better market access, and group profitability by improving on the capacity of the bee keepers who are members of the Dupoto Beekeepers Cooperative.
The overall objective of this initiative is to build the capacity of the cooperative members in all aspects of the apiculture “value chain”, support the development and access to relevant infrastructure, machineries and technology, build a good business model that can be maintained over time, and to improve market access for beek products and value added products from the greater Mukogodo area.
Group organization and training was started earlier this year. Next, we will host a series of technical trainings for beekeepers organized in small groups around Mukogodo Forest on beekeeping management.
Dupoto Beekeepers Cooperative was established in 2020 and registered in February 2021. The Cooperative is comprised of 18 beekeeping groups from community lands around Mukogodo Forest. The group has already started to identify good honey markets, and are using improved skills to sell better products for a better price. Stay tuned for more on Dupoto in upcoming newsletters.