It is difficult for small farmers in rural areas nowadays to survive on farming alone, therefore it takes time to hunt for alternative forms of income. This is the story of Rajab Bidu, a successful and progressive farmer living in Majoreni village, Kwale county, who has become a successful beekeeper. Rajab, 48 years old and a father of four is an experienced beekeeper working also as a master trainer in his community to support new beekeepers. Rajab with the other 10 beekeepers is part of the Bee and Conservation group, a social enterprise working with bees to generate income and ecology enhancement. Rajab fir
st became involved in honey farming in 2012 through the KWETU’s Beekeeping training Initiative supported by PACT Kenya. Before this, Rajab was a fish farmer. His family had an extremely tough time providing for themselves because they lacked land and had irregular income.
The issue was getting worse as the costs of leaving increased like a sour vine. Rajab sought a way to boost his income so he could take care of his other requirements including paying for his children’s education and his household. Being married at a young age prevented him from studying beyond form four. Finally, one day he was approached by a friend who was a trainer of the KWETU. Inspired by his work, Rajab enrolled in a skill development course on bee farming.
He started this business with three hives which were donated by KWETU and haven’t looked back again. With the help of small loans and incentives, he grew the number of hives to 10, and eventually to 30. He is now proficient in his field and able to expand his company’s hives to 50 without any outside funding. He is excited to expand his apiary and learn more about the intricacies of the business.
During his free time, Rajab has been training over 40 communities group on the importance of beekeeping. “Beekeeping is significantly simpler and requires less input than crop production. The honey is more expensive and has a longer shelf life. We thought we understood a lot about beekeeping and bee farming when we went for the training, but we quickly discovered that this was not the case.
Since then, we have learned from our mistakes and operate with the knowledge we have gained. We also started planting flowers around the apiary after the training to prevent the bees from flying off to far-off crops,” He spoke As a means of empowering the community, Rajab sells his honey through KWETU for $200 monthly. Rajab is capable of earning more than $2400 in a year which gives him financial independence and contributes to his family’s livelihood.
This shows his ability to produce good-quality honey. With the proceeds from his honey business, Rajab has built a home for his family, acquired a motorcycle, and more than 15 cows, enabled his kids to attend school, and started a business for his wife. His kids like using honey as medicine and for its health advantages. He is currently in the process of buying a piece of property that will allow him to grow his business. “After getting money from the first harvest, I envision a bright future,” remarked Rajab.
He continues by saying, “I’ll be able to look after my family better and save money, “he said. Additionally, he has hired two workers for his apiary. He has become both self and employer in this way. He encourages others in his village to take responsibility for their actions. Rajab will succeed in this quest thanks to the KWETU initiative and will serve as an example of perseverance and hard work to others who wish to earn a sustainable hence giving them social and economic empowerment. According to statistics, Kwale County Government is estimated that, if fully exploited, the beekeeping industry can generate revenues upwards of KSH30 million (approximately USD260,000) annually.