• Kitui honey is acclaimed as the sweetest in Kenya and the county wants to match the flavour with quality by ensuring it is free of chemicals.
• Pesticides leave residues on crops and honey ends up being restricted from some markets.
Kitui beekeepers have been encouraged to discard the use of pesticides and instead use biopesticides as they are safe to both man and the environment.
The intention is to improve the quantity and quality of honey produced by the over 5,000 honey farmers, according to Temi Mutia, a value addition specialist in the office of Governor Charity Ngilu.
“Kitui honey is acclaimed for being the sweetest in Kenya and we want to match the flavour with quality by ensuring it is not contaminated with chemicals from pesticides.
"That is why we want farmers from whose farm foliage bees get nectar and pollen to use biopesticides,” Mutia said in Mwingi town on Monday.
Mutia said although honey is generally a high value product, eco-honey that is not adulterated with chemical residues has more value and a ready market internationally.
“That is why we want our farmers to take up the use of biopesticides as opposed to chemical-based pesticides which, apart from affecting the quality of honey, also contribute to high death of bees whenever they come into contact with the chemicals.”
Mutia said the county government had partnered with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology to introduce widespread use of biopesticides across the county.
Research has shown that Kitui can produce 400 tonnes annually and earn apiarists Sh80 million.
The county government is training farmers on modern ways of honey production and kitting them to produce quality honey.
Mutia said Kenya produces 20,000 tonnes of honey annually but the 100,000-tonne demand outstrips the supply.
Early last month, Icipe specialist Subramanian Sevgan said it was imperative for Africa to adopt the use of biopesticides.
Sevgan said studies had shown that Asian farmers had registered remarkable increase in farm yield due to the use of biopestcides.
He discouraged the use of chemical pesticides due to their negative impact on human beings, the environment and quality of crops.
According to the scientist, pests develop resistance to chemical-based pesticides. Chemical pesticides leave residues on crops and the produce ends up being restricted from some markets.
Biopesticides are derived from animals, plants, bacteria and minerals. As such, they are environment friendly.
Edited by Henry Makori