Kenya, a land of rich biodiversity and natural resources, finds itself in an interesting predicament when it comes to honey production.
Despite having the capacity to yield five times more honey than its current production, the country imports a staggering 80% of its honey consumption.
Globally, the honey industry contributes to a sweet 1.8 million tonnes of honey production annually. Leading the charge is China, reigning as the world’s largest honey producer with an impressive yield of 457,203 tonnes per year.
In contrast, the United States, although a substantial player, ranks sixth, producing 69,104 tonnes annually. Nestled in between is Kenya, holding the third position on the African continent.
Enterprising individuals like Kyalo Mutua, CEO of Savannah Honey, one of the biggest bee firm in the country, have taken it upon themselves to transform this potential into reality.
Kyalo’s journey took flight in 2013 when, an urban planner by profession, he encountered an unexpected inquiry about selling bee pollen.Intrigued by the potential this venture held, he embraced beekeeping wholeheartedly, leveraging his newly formed connections with farmers to establish Savannah Honey.
Beekeeping, renowned for its sustainable economic model with minimal labor and zero inputs, became the cornerstone of Kyalo’s enterprise. An innovative aspect emerged – empowering urban dwellers to utilize their idle lands productively through managed bee farms.
This unique proposition resonated with city inhabitants, allowing them to cultivate their apiaries while simultaneously tending to their urban responsibilities.
As Kyalo aptly puts it, “The sweet promise of beekeeping’s potential was too irresistible to ignore.” The venture started modestly with 300,000 hives, and today, it proudly collaborates with over 4,500 farmers and has flourished into a multi-million-dollar company.
Savannah Honey’s approach is multifaceted, focusing on empowerment, education, and market access.
The company supplies beekeeping equipment at reasonable prices, coupled with essential technical support to ensure healthy bee colonies.
Additionally, Savannah Honey provides a steady market for the beekeepers’ products
. Currently purchasing honey at KSH 500 per kilogram, bee pollen at KSH 6800 per kilogram, propolis at KSH 1900 per kilogram, royal jelly at KSH 38000 per kilogram, wax at KSH 700 per kilogram, and bee venom at KSH 40000 per gram, the company not only drives economic growth but also promotes the use of bee products in various applications.
Savannah Honey has expanded its reach across six countries, including Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, and Namibia. By harnessing bee pollen’s potential, the company produces supplements for ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, skin issues, weight loss, and even libido-related concerns.
Propolis, a resinous substance collected by bees from trees, finds its way into tinctures, honey suspensions, lip balms, creams, soaps, and various hygiene products.
Bee venom, often dubbed “nature’s toxin,” holds the potential for treating HIV/AIDS, arthritis, and even breast cancer, while also contributing to anti-aging remedies.
The journey to success, however, is not without its challenges.
When Savannah Honey embarked on its mission, securing honey harvested with modern techniques, particularly honey extractors, proved difficult due to high demand and the prevalence of traditional hives.
As Kenya aims to further bolster its honey industry, the need for hygienic and efficient production methods becomes increasingly vital.
In a bid to uplift the youth and transform the honey landscape, Savannah Honey has embarked on strategic collaborations. An agreement with the Youth Fund seeks to empower 10,000 young individuals in modern beekeeping practices.
Furthermore, the partnership with GIZ aims to empower 2000 youth across Kisumu, Kakamega, Bungoma, Siaya, and Vihiga Counties through the Agri Jobs-4-Youth initiative.