Beekeeping is one of the major socio-economic activities carried of by the indigenous Ogiek community in Mariashoni location. Traditionally the activity was carried out by men, particularly the elderly in the community. Young men accompanied their fathers to the site where they had placed their traditional log hives and were taught the traditional ways of rearing bees and the trees on which beehives should be hung. One of the most common trees used for the placement of hive is red cedar. It’s also utilized for making of log hive due to its nature of lasting for ages and resistance to pests like termites. In terms of fodder the community prefers the use of Dobeya species whose flower acts as bee fodder. These flower give the Ogiek honey its signature whitish grey color and unique taste.
Given the available potential in both local and international markets available for Ogiek to take advantage of. Production of honey for commercial and consumption purposes remain relatively low due to the lack of/ inadequate proper equipment for beekeeping and management, processing equipment and inadequate knowledge on beekeeping. These factors lead to low honey yield annually, low competitiveness of the honey in the domestic market and low income from the beekeeping enterprise.
With the ongoing project in Mariashoni location, Necofa in partnership with Manitese (An Italian N.G.O) set out to improve the current state of beekeeping in Mariashoni. Their objective being to enhance the Ogiek community’s knowledge on beekeeping, to increase the honey output in the location and to increase household income for families undertaking beekeeping activities. To achieve this. project is working with eight community groups who have already been trained on beekeeping and management. These groups will be supported with hives, and beekeeping equipments so as to establish their apiaries. The apiaries will acts as educational and training centers for both group members and community members. Demonstrations will be undertaken there to make sure that all members gain the skill necessary to establish apiaries on their own. The group apiaries will also help in increasing the revenue for individual groups. The honey will be processed in the newly established workshop at Mariashoni center.
The eight groups working in collaboration with Necofa include:
1. Kaptembwa self-help group
2. Ogiek East Mau beekeeping self help group
3. Taparia self-help group
4. Imani youth group
5. Besin Visionary network self-help group
6. Samitap Kapkeringet self-group
7. Kolanda self-help group
8. Ongeset self-help group
Already groups have been supported with Hives and beekeeping equipment while the other four will be supplied with hive in September and October 2012. The number of hive supplied is 35 Kenya Top Bar Hive (KTBH), 25 Langstroth hives, 25 Log hives. The table below shows the distribution of hives.
Environmental clubs establishment.
Four schools have been trained on the establishment of environmental/ 4 K clubs. The training mainly focused on leadership and management, diverse activities that clubs can carry out in the school, record keeping and benefits of being environmental club members.
The four schools that have undergone the training include:
1. Mariashoni Primary School
2. Ndoswa Primary School
3. Kaprop Primary School
4. Oinoptich Primary School
These clubs consist of 44, 38, 29, 41 members respectively. Each school has set aside a piece of land which will be used for establishing a botanical garden planted with local indigenous trees and plant species native to the Mau ecosystem. The botanical garden will also consist of local medicinal plants varieties and edible herbs and vegetables native to the areas. This will aid the students in learning about their local traditional food culture and also the significance of each plant species to the community; considering that very few of them have a deeper understanding of their local traditional culture. It will also help them in understanding the need for environmental conservation in the Mau Forest Ecosystem.
Tree Nurseries Establishment
The project has also supported local self-help group to establish Tree nurseries in the community. The support included nursery maintenance and work tools, and seed. These Nurseries include:
1. Imani Youth Group
2. Jamii Empowerment SHG
3. Besin Visionary SHG
4. Taparia SHG
These groups were trained on tree nurseries establishment and management, Record Keeping, resource mobilization and marketing to help them sustain their groups in the long run. These tree nurseries will be raising both indigenous tree species and exotic agroforestry trees. The seedlings from the nurseries will be sold to local communities for agroforestry purposes and some to other stakeholders e.g. Kenya Forest service and other non-governmental organization who participate in reforestation activities in the region to help restore the Mau Forest Ecosystem. The groups will engage themselves in the collection of seedlings from the forest to enable them gather seedlings that are native to the Mau Forest and have a cultural bond with the Ogiek community. These nurseries will also be used as learning centers for community members who are not familiar with the local tree species and to promote the conservation of local biodiversity. The group also helps to cultivate entrepreneurial skill amongst the members thus acting as income generation activities for the community members.
The Mariashoni Community Development SHG, which was formed recently has been engaging itself in the popularization of its initiatives in the community. They have been conducting meetings and barazas with community members so at to engage them to participate more actively in the process of community development. To strengthen their capacity to operate more efficiently the project supported them with a one day training for it’s committee members. The training entailed Leadership and Management, Record Keeping Resources Mobilization, roles and responsibilities of committee members and growth and development of an organization. The CBO has also been coordinating the honey procurement from local farmers. This activity is ongoing considering that the harvesting season is approaching thus the CBO is trying to acquire as much as they can so that it can be refined at the Mariashoni honey refinery, then certified for by the Kenya Bureau of Standards. After the honey is certified the CBO will be in charge of Marketing the honey countrywide thus providing a path way for Mariashoni Ogiek community to be able to earn some decent compensation for their honey production without being exploited by the middlemen who buy it at a throw away price. Other areas of the CBO engagement include commercialization of locally produced milk, wool purchase and value addition and pyrethrum commercialization and popularization in the area.