Counties

Poisonous plant threatens Kajiado honey business

honey

Honey contains 80 per cent natural sugar. Kenya bee farmers are facing surging demand for honey and related products as the world’s leading suppliers in America, Asia and Europe grapple with a deadly parasite that is slashing world honey production.Photo/Photos.com

Summary

  • Beekeeping enterprises in Kajiado county are on the verge of collapse as a result of honey safety fears associated with the poisonous Ipomea plant nectar.
  • Currently, honey produced from Kajiado County is considered poisonous with traders avoiding it, jeopardising the lucrative venture.
  • Ipomea, the green leafy plant, is the biggest challenge to bee farmers currently occupying more than two million acres in the vast county.

Bee keeping enterprises in Kajiado county are on the verge of collapse as a result of honey safety fears associated with the poisonous Ipomea plant nectar.

Currently honey produced from Kajiado County is considered poisonous with traders avoiding it, jeopardising the lucrative venture.

Ipomea, the green leafy plant, is the biggest challenge to bee farmers currently occupying more than two million acres in the vast county.

Oliame leteti (Maasai name for Ipomea) isn't eaten even by both and wild animals due to its awful smell.

The honey made from the plant’s flowers is said to make the consumer doze after taking it.

"My family members used to consume the honey collected from family beehives until we realised it was making us sleepy and suffer from fatigue," said Nancy Marikua, Kajiado Central sub county resident.

Farmers say initially they used to fetch Sh500 for a kilo of raw honey but it kept shrinking and now it is going for Sh100 per kilo.

Honey brokers no longer visit the villages for the honey.

“Bee keeping in this region is no longer tenable. Wild honey is also too dangerous after locals discovered the honey makes consumers doze off. I used to keep more than 50 beehives in my ranch but can’t do it anymore," said Timothy Kores, a local bee farmer.

A spot check indicates that most farmers have abandoned the enterprise with bee hives lying empty in thickets. Farmers in Kajiado central sub county are the most affected.

The decline in honey production might also affect food security as the Maasai community traditionally uses honey as food preservative, especially for meat.

According to the Agricultural Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP) county coordinator Halima Nenkari, the plant poses a big danger to herders and bee farmers in the region.

“The dangerous plant is spreading at an alarming rate, endangering livestock rearing and beekeeping. It is a terrible plant,” said Halima Nenkari.

In most parts of Kajiado Central, women and children spend most of their time uprooting the plant said to be affecting a person's respiratory system.

In the next five years, it’s estimated the plant will have spread to more than 3 million acres of land reducing the number of cattle by 40percent.

Wild animals in game reserves and private sanctuaries in the entire Kajiado county may be greatly affected too.