Baringo District is one of the districts in Kenya that is categorized as an ASAL area, characterized by high poverty and food insecurity. Subsistence farming and pastoralism have been and still are the main source of livelihood for majority of the people. However, since crop and livestock agriculture are susceptible to drought, beekeeping has become the sole most important alternative form of sustenance. Despite documented potential benefits of value addition, honey is majorly produced and marketed with little processing. There is insufficient knowledge on why this is the case. Using survey data from 110 randomly selected honey producers from two divisions in Baringo District, descriptive methods were used to summarize household characteristics and to characterize the farming systems in the study area, while the Heckman two stage and the logistic regression models were used to determine the extent of value addition contingent on the decision of a honey producer to participate in value addition activity, and to assess the link between honey value addition and household poverty status, respectively. From the results, it emerged that farmers in the study area can be categorized into three farming systems, namely, small scale subsistence, small scale semi-commercial, and medium-scale commercial with varying levels of honey production and value addition. The Heckman two stage results indicated that the decision to add value was positively and significantly influenced by the amount of honey harvested, group membership and amount of hours spent on off-farm activities. On the other hand, value addition was negatively influenced by the age of the farmers as well education level. From the study, it also emerged that value addition plays an important role in poverty reduction among those who practice it. The results implied the need come up with specific measures targeting rural farmers, majority of whom are illiterate. This is important as far as training of farmers is concerned and especially when it concerns adoption of new technologies. It is also vital to put in place measures that would encourage and facilitate the practice of value addition if the welfare of the rural population is to be uplifted. The study highlighted imperative policy implications that can help in the debate of poverty alleviation through engaging in high value markets and boosting value addition at farm level.

Background Information 
Beekeeping is an important component of agriculture, rural employment, human nutrition and economic development. Honey is the most important primary product of beekeeping both from a quantitative and economic point of view, and has been used by mankind for many years as a source of food, medicine and for religious and cultural ceremonies (Cartland 1970; Mcinerney 1990; Molan 1999). Apiculture is currently one of the most widespread agricultural activities carried out throughout the world. There are approximately 56 million bee hives in the world, which produce an estimated 1.2 billion tons of honey. About a quarter of the honey produced is traded and90% of the exportation is made from around 20countries that produce honey. China has the highest number of beehives with 65 million units and with honey production of 306,000 tons. Average honey production per hive is 20 kg throughout the world, and this figure is 33 in China, 40 in Argentina, 27 in Mexico, 64 in Canada, 55 in Australia, 40 in Hungary, and 16 kg in Turkey. These countries are also the highest honey exporting countries in the world. The countries that are the best honey importers are Germany, the United States of America (USA), Japan, England, Italy, Switzerland, France, Austria and other European countries. In addition to honey, bee products such as propolis, royal jelly, pollens and wax are also significant in the world trade. On the other hand, in countries with developed agriculture, in addition to production of bee products and even rather mainly, vegetative production is exercised in order to increase quantity and quality (Kizilaslan and Kizilaslan, 2007). 

According to Roubik,(1995:2002), apiculture in general and improved apiculture in particular contributes to environmental protection and sustainable agriculture through a reduction of environmental effects from tree felling for traditional bee hive construction and from fire hazards from smoking of hives. Encouragement of apiculture and increases in output of hive products would be in accordance with agricultural sector policies of many African Governments. These often seek the improvement of household food security concurrently with raising incomes and stabilizing cash flows through improving productivity of various agricultural and diversified agricultural activities 

Bee-keeping has been contributing to household incomes hence livelihoods in terms of food security and poverty alleviation. It has been advocated for by development agents, because its nature: low input requirement, cheap technology based, and gender friendly and independent from environmental changes. It does not depend on soil, and it can be a single means of living for families with very little or no soil (Kizilaslan and Kizilaslan, 2007). 

According to a study by FAO, 2001, it was found that depending on the assets people have the structures and processes that impact on them, tradition, and the vulnerability context under which they operate, they choose livelihood strategies that will best provide them with livelihood outcomes. Livelihood strategies are composed of activities that generate the means of household survival (Ellis, 2000:40). Livelihood strategies change as the external environment over which people have little control changes. Sometimes unsustainable and unproductive Livelihood strategies continue because of tradition and habit (Izadi and Cahn, 2000) at other times livelihood activities are introduced as coping strategies in difficult times. In this study, livelihood outcomes will entail poverty reduction, food security, welfare, and asset ownership. 

The benefits from bee keeping come through provision of honey, wax, propolis and pollination (Krell, 2000). The product, honey, has a long shelf life well suited for rural communities without much infrastructure. It has also a high nutritional and medicinal value and hence contributes immensely to the community health and wellbeing in the short-term. Bee production globally has been growing steadily, with demand growing at a faster rate. Global honey production has been adversely affected by the global collapse of bee colonies. This has affected also the big honey producers: US, China and Argentina. As a result, major importers of honey are now turning to Africa. Britain for instance, only produces one-tenth of the honey it consumes while 22tonnes are imported from other honey producing countries. Although the ban on Chinese honey in the European market was lifted three years ago, consumers in the European Union (EU) countries still want organic honey which Kenya has (Ann,2008). 

Bee-Keeping in Kenya 
Bee-keeping in Kenya is practiced in the arid and semi arid areas both by individual small scale farmers and Common Interest Groups (CIGs).According to a report by the Ministry of Livestock (GOK, 2001) bee keeping can be carried out successfully in 80 percent of the country. It is especially suitable in semi-arid areas where other modes of agriculture are not very possible. Bee keeping contributes to incomes as well as food security through provision of honey, beeswax, proppolis, bees’ venom and royal jelly in medicine. It also contributes to seed and food crop production through pollination and conserves natural environment. 

The country’s potential for apiculture development is estimated at over 100,000 metric tones of honey and 10,000 metric tones of beeswax. However, at the moment only a fifth of this potential is being exploited (GoK, 2005). Despite this however, and the downward trend in global production of honey, the Kenyan case has however been different. Findings by the Ministry of trade in 2001 indicated that production in Kenya has been steadily growing for instance from 17,259 metric tones in1994, 19,071 in 1996 and 22,803 in 2000 (GoK, 2001). In Kenya, over 90% of beekeepers use traditional methods that presumably lead to honey of low quality (Mbae 1999). 

Role of Bee Keeping in Baringo District 
According to the Development plan for 1997-2001, honey production is estimated to have been 79,000 tones in 1995, the latest year for which statistics were available at the time of compilation of the plan (Office of the Vice President and Ministry of Planning, undated). Bee keepers earned Kshs.7.2 Million from the sale of honey and this compared favorably with other activities in the livestock-rearing sector. Milk, for example, earned farmers Kshs.6.6 million in the same period. It was expected that earnings could have been higher and lower incomes were blamed on an inadequate marketing infrastructure. 

Gichora, (2003) found out that bee keeping is listed among the four most important income- generating activities in Baringo District. It is regarded as a separate activity from livestock keeping contrary to the official view where bee keeping falls under livestock rearing. In the highlands, for instance in Kituro where there is high potential for intensive agriculture, farming is ranked first with coffee as a cash crop. Bee keeping was third, after livestock keeping. In the lowlands however, the potential for crop agriculture declines for instance in Marigat where livestock was first while bee keeping took the second position among the key income-generating activities. Crop production in these areas is only possible under irrigation. This shows that bee keeping is a viable option for diversification of economic activities in Marginal areas. When in season, hive products are sold to generate income that goes a long way in improving livelihoods and reducing poverty. 

In Kenya, however, honey is sold in its raw form, particularly among producers, with very little value addition being done. This in turn infringes on income at farm level. The value addition done entails honey combs being broken down into small pieces, heated on fire so that honey can melt out of the combs and thereafter it is sieved by a linen cloth bag. The refined liquid honey is usually packed in jerry cans and empty soft-drink bottles, since most farmers cannot afford honey jars. Comb honey is packed in buckets.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 61 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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