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Sweet smell of success in Kenya

02 May 2018

Long periods of drought are leaving many farmers in Kenya fearful that they will no longer be able to grow enough food for their families. Trócaire is helping them develop new ways of earning money to overcome the impacts of climate change.

34 year old, Jane Ngugi is a member of Kiaweru Bee keeping Group. Photo: Aidan O'Neill.

Jane Ngugi, Beekeeper, Kenya. Photo: Aidan O'Neill.

Jane Ngugi (34) joined a Trócaire bee keeping group and the project has provided her with a vital source of extra income ever since. She hails from one of the driest parts of Embu County, Kenya.

Jane joined the Bee Keeping group in 2014 as way to provide for her family and pay school fees for her two children. Her youngest son, who comfortably lies on her back as she walks us through her farm, will soon be joining school, which will add to the financial burden.

34 year old, Jane Ngugi with her son. Jane is a member of Kiaweru Bee keeping Group. Photo: Aidan O'Neill.

34 year old, Jane Ngugi with her youngest son. Photo: Aidan O'Neill.

Her group have benefitted from the support of a UK Aid Match Trócaire project. This project has supplied 10 Complete African Bee hives from the Hive Group, a leading supplier of beekeeping equipment in Africa.

With the modern complete African bee hives, the group can produce more honey.

With the modern complete African Bee Hive, Jane's group can produce more honey Photo: Aidan O'Neill.

The growing effects of climate change are evident in Ishiara, Embu County.  Persistent erratic rainfall patterns and scorching heat have become the norm. Farmers are struggling to provide for their families due to poor harvests. Their seeds often rot after planting. Their greatest worry is “how do we get money to send our children to school”.  Alternatives to traditional farming such as bee keeping have become increasingly vital as families can no longer depend on rain-fed agriculture as a reliable source of food and income.

Jane’s passion for beekeeping is evident.  She says  “I am very happy because I had never seen the modern beehive before...when the bees come, we will be able to harvest honey three times a year and not once like the traditional one.”

Historically, it is uncommon for women to engage in beekeeping in Kenya. Hive management has traditionally required dangerous climbs on tall trees to harvest honey, a task many have regarded as unsuitable for women.  But the introduction of modern hives has helped to change that as the new hives can be operated from the ground. Women, just like Jane, are now taking up the challenge of tending hives and producing honey. Seventy per cent of the Kiaweru Beekeeping are women. 

34 year old, Jane Ngugi is a member of Kiaweru Bee keeping Group. Photo: Aidan O'Neill.

Jane Ngugi is a member of Kiaweru Bee keeping Group. Photo: Aidan O'Neill.

Currently, Jane owns 10 traditional hives and can earn up to €200 a year from her beekeeping. She is optimistic that the future is bright. With income generated from the honey sold as a group, they plan to buy 17 more hives so that each of the group members has their own.

Members of the Kiaweru Bee keeping Group. Photo: Aidan O'Neill.

Trócaire is helping the group manage their hives and sell the honey. We look forward to witnessing the life changing transformation as a result of this project.

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