Defining Social Pathways in kitui south Bee keeping and value chains addition


The 1st Kitui South Community Dialogue

Office of the Governor- Kitui County; by Dr Temi

The Professional elites from kitui south and beyond on Friday held first Ever Community dialogue convention at Mutomo town which was attended by over 400 participants.

The main objective of the convention was for the community to come together and chat the way forward in readiness of the much-expected business opportunities which is infiltrating the town after the construction of kitui kibwezi road.

Seniors National officers led by Mutomo Deputy county commissioner Ronald Enyakasi, The County Government of kitui senior officers led by Dr Temi Mutia, the value chain specialist in the office of the Governor Ngilu.

Salutations / Introduction:

About two weeks ago, I received your invitation to this conference. And the first thing which went into my mind was, why me???

But after some very deep reflection, I quickly realized that, the topic the organizers had suggested for me to “prosecute”, was very much in line with the work I am currently doing for the people of this great in general and in Kitui South in particular.

Just for your noting, I did my MSc. Thesis here in Kitui South and was titled: “Entrepreneurial and Technological Challenges facing Beekeepers- a Case Study of Traditional Beekeepers of Kasaala- Kitui District”

Further, as one time the National Chairman of the Kenya Beekeepers Association, I was privileged to attend an international beekeeping conference in Vancouver –Canada, and in Durban –South Africa.

This, should perhaps explain why, it did not need a lot of convincing to be here today.

Having said this, your Conference Theme, “Kitui – Mutomo- Kibwezi Highway -Road Safety and Available Business Opportunities for Socio-Economic Development”, is also very much in tandem with the current realities in our County.

In a few more months from today, the Kibwezi –Mutomo – Kitui highway is going to be complete.

From an economic and social perspective, have you guys ever posed to ask yourselves what this will mean???

Transit vehicles which have been moving cargo from the port of Mombasa to Embu, Meru, Isiolo, Samburu and all the way to Ethiopia and possibly Southern Sudan, are going to stop using Mombasa road and come through Kitui;

With a big chunk of transit cargo headed to Nairobi, the Rift Valley, Western Kenya, Nyanza and Uganda, having been taken up by the SGR, it means, everybody with a truck is going to try his /her luck on the new road, where there is not going to be competition from SGR.

To what extend then, can the people of Kitui South in particular and Kitui County in general can say that they are ready to tap/ cope with :

The economic boom which is going to come with the opening of the road

The immense social vices / anti- social behavior, which is most certainly going to come?

Traffic Road Accidents, affecting humans (especially school going kids and livestock).

I will be revisiting this issue, shortly, once I start my attempt of mapping out / building scenarios on the potential economic pathways available in Kitui South Sub-County.

But, first things first, the world over, one of the key parameters used by economists and policy analysts in developing social and economic pathways of any given area include: Demographics; Locally available Resources (especially land and mineral wealth), and Geographical location, with levels of education and skills being a crosscutting, but critical factor.

With the above parameters in place, it is never difficult to attract Capital, by external interested parties;

For, this reason, an understanding of the National demographic trends of the last 50 years would be a good eye opener to the challenges currently facing Kenya in particular and nearly all Sub-Saharan Countries in general.

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Kenya’s Half Century Demographics Trend at a Glance:

Source: KNBS: Census 2019 population growth rate

Kenya’s population has grown from 10 Million to 50 Million in 50 years.

(an average growth rate of more than 3 percent per year).

Male : 23,548,056 Female : 24,014,716 : Intersex : 1,524

In Kitui County, we have already set up a team which is currently trying to critically trying to unpack all the key parameters of both the National and County demographics (with special focus on Youth and Women):

Our main areas of interest include:Levels of Education in the County;

Skills/ Competencies available in the County;

Employment / Employability.

However, the baseline survey we did in Dec. 2017, shortly before commencement of the Ndengu Revolution showed, that as a County, the County was seriously deficient on nearly every other serious basic skill imaginable. (Viz. Plant operators; Beauty Therapists; Skills in hospitality management- waiters, chefs, cateresses, etc.

Kenya’s Youth Demographics at ioa Glance:

The proportion of Kenya’s youth to the population is among the highest globally, presenting the economy with a vibrant manpower if put to productive use;

Ethiopia boasts the highest youth population share globally at 21.8 per cent, or 22.8 million, while Bulgaria having the least at 9.1 per cent;

At 20.3 per cent, Kenya ties with Sudan but trails Uganda’s 20.5 per cent youthful population.

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, has a youth share of 19 per cent, despite having the largest pool of millennials at 36.4 million out of a population of 190 million.

Kitui County at a Glance:

Population : 1,136,187

Area : 30,430 km²

Literacy Levels / Skills Competency : Our Preliminary analysis is showing that, about 60% of the total Kitui Population have never gone beyond class 8, and worse still, they have no known skills worth talking about;

About 63% of the adult population live on less than a dollar a day (One out of every 3 adults), with the youth being the most affected;

Value Addition Initiatives in the County: As of Dec. 2017, there was ONLY one known factory in the whole of Kitui, doing some kind of Value Addition (Kitui Maize Millers in Mwingi).

Kitui South at a Glance:

Population: 166,050 Area Approx.: 6,133.70 km²

Literacy Levels / Skills Competency: As Young Professionals, kindly allow me to give this to you as an assignment, during this festive season.

The Kitui South National Game Reserve at a Glance:Area: Approx. 1,833.0 km²

Both the Kitui South National Game reserve and the Tsavo East National Park (The biggest game park in Kenya) would be very ideal for Bio-diversity initiatives, conservation initiatives and beekeeping.


The Manifesto: Comprises of 5 Agendas:

Food and Water;Health;Youth Development;Women Empowerment and Wealth Creation;

Flagship Projects we have selected using a Value Chain / Value Addition Approach: (With a special focus on youth, women and sustainability in mind):

Textiles and Apparels: (Our Hypothesis is that there is no time human beings will ever walk about without clothing, hence, cloth them)

Menu: It is one of the best drought escaping crop in Kitui County (ready for harvest in 60-65 days, needs minimal rains and has a market);

Ballast Crushing: Ballast is a key ingredient in the construction of houses and roads the world all over. With Yatta Plateau starching all the way from Jinja to Tsavo National Park, this is clearly a resource we are NOT utilizing for our economic benefit);

Miranda Irrigation: This is premised on the understanding that nearly all our vegetables come from outside the County. Our Riparian areas have clearly proven that we can produce something beneficial from them;

Artificial Insemination: Though one of the most criticized, when it started, there NOW, seems to be a 180 degree turn around about it. And this is for good reason. ( Assuming that, 30% of the estimated 300,000 households take half a liter of fresh milk daily for breakfast, this would translate to 100,000 households taking 50,000litress of milk daily, at Kshs.50/- per half a litre, this would translate to a cool Kshs.2,500,000/- per day or Kshs.75,000,000/- per month;

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Mango Flakes: Instead of processing mango for concentrate and ready to drink juice, our focus is going to be drying mango, currently being used in most of Europe in breakfast cereals;



The areas, initially most affected by charcoal burning are also proving to be suitable for Beekeeping / Organic honey production.

(Athi Ward, Ikutha, Mutomo, Kanziku and Mutha, not to mention, both the Kitui South National Game Reserve and Tsavo National Game Park);

Simply put, about 80% of all of Kitui South is most ideal for beekeeping, with mind bobbling possible rate on return on investment;

The main products derived from the hive include: (honey; bee pollen; bee wax; propolis; royal jelly, honey beer and bee venom).

It is has been estimated that, annually, Kenya consumes an estimated 100,000 MT of honey, against an annual production of about 25,000 to 30,000 MTs.

Clearly, annually, there is a deficit of about +/- 70,000 MTs of honey, not locally available in Kenya, thus forcing most of the chain stores and Industrial honey users to import the product;

In Economic Terms, this translates to (70,000 MTs X 1,000 kgs per Ton X say, Kshs.500/- per Kg, Translating to more than Kshs. 3 Billion worth of honey imports per annum;

Based on the fact that Kitui South Sub-County has a population of 166,050 people and assuming one household, has 7 people (Viz. Husband + wife + 5 Children). This would translate to 23,721 households;

Assume each household agrees to keep ONLY 10 hives, and each hive will be producing 10 kgs, with each kg selling at kshs.300/- (X-farm gate).

This would translate to (23,721 households X 10 kgs per hive per season X 2 seasons per year = 474,420 kgs, Approx. 500 tons per annum);

500 Tons X 1000 kgs per ton X Kshs 300 /- per Kg (Before the honey is value-added, would translate to Kshs. 1.5 Billion of earnings per annum.

With proper focusing matched with continuously applied skills development, it is going to be possible to make money from the other hive products (Viz. Bees was, Propolis, Pollen, Royal Jelly, Bee Venom, etc….)

It is also going to be possible for Kitui South Sub –County to start a beer brewing factory, whose main ingredient is going to be honey.


There are countless products found in Kitui South, with very high potential for Value Addition for sustainable livelihood/wealth creation. Guided by the three (3) P’s of Value Addition (Viz. Product; Processes and People)

On Products:

The priority agriculture-based products include: Baobab, Tamarind, and sandalwood;

On minerals you can easily start with magnesium, lime and pottery;

On environmentally related to you can easily start with eco-tourism.

On Processes:

You need transport, bulking and trade/financing logistics. This is where joining Co-operatives and/or forming Special Purpose Vehicles (Limited Companies becomes extremely handy).

On People:

The idea is to Value Add people, through applied skills training, knowledge diffusion and exposure tours. (This is exactly what is happening in India).


I consider myself very privileged to have had the opportunity to accompany Governor Charity Kaluki Ngilu, during her official trip to India in February 2018, and to Taiwan in September this year.

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In India, they have, over the last 70 years been working very, very hard to Value Add nearly anything and everything which they produce in that sub-continent of 1.3 Billion people:

In Vishaka Patnam, the Capital City of Utah Pradesh State, the devolved Government (equivalent to Counties in Kenya), has set up an apparel making Company called Brandix.

The Company was started barely 10 years ago, and today employs 16,000 people (95%) of whom are barely literate women;

The Company specializes in making ONLY two types of clothing (Panties and Beziers for Women) exclusively for women, for all the top brands in the World ( Calvin Klein, Gucci, Mark & Spenser, etc..);

From Textiles to Pharmaceuticals, to Agricultural Produce, to Motor Vehicles, to Counterfeits, the Indians are working very, very hard, and innovatively so, to ensure that they have a slice of the pie in International Trade.

In Taiwan, they have now come up with a technology of adding Value to Bamboo for the clothing Industry (Forget about cotton, bamboo is the next big thing in the textile industry);

From these two visits to two of the leading South-East Asian Tigers, the one thing I have learned is that most of the raw materials they use come from Africa. Technology and Markets are mostly in the developed world, while production has been happening in South East Asian Countries (mostly, due to the cheap labour);

NOW, things are changing, labour is slowly becoming expensive. In the next 10 years, factories / Value Addition processes are going to shift to where the raw materials are…..and that’s Africa…..Where in Africa????

They won’t really care, provided the conditions are conducive to their objectives;

Because, in the next 5 to 10 years, our Value Added initiatives (Honey, Textiles and Apparel, Ballast crushing, et…) could very easily be providing dignified employment to well over 10,000 youths throughout the County and more.

That’s, why today, I am calling upon every right-thinking Kituian, regardless of his / her political persuasion to unequivocally support Governor Charity Kaluki Ngilu’s ongoing flagship initiatives, for sustainable development and dignified wealth creation for the sake of current and future generations.



As clearly demonstrated through this paper, Bees / Beekeeping (if well harnessed), has the potential to sustainably redefine the Economic and Social bounds of Kitui South Sub-County, while at the same time fighting the negative effects of climate change.

Suggestions / Critical Action Areas worth noting:

For Sustainability, the County Government of Kitui (in very close collaboration with KAMAKI Farmers Co-operative Ltd, Dorcas Aid International, the World Bank and most recently ICIPE), are going to collaborate on a queen rearing initiative, with the objective of ensuring that hive colonization rate in Kitui South is significantly improved;

From Jan. 2020, we (County Government, KAMALI, Dorcas Aid, ICIPE and National Beekeeping Institute), will be running applied short training on Apiculture Farming at KAMALI- in Mwangeni;

To ensure that the Honey Value Chain loop is complete, the County Government is spearheading an initiative aimed at ensuring that honey from Kitui South, gets its way into at least three (3) leading Chain stores in Kenya in the next 12 months;

Plans are underway to start using beehives to keep away marauding elephants away from our crops, especially in Kanziku and other areas bordering the Tsavo National Park;

Plans are underway to host one of the biggest honey festivals in Kenya, out here in Kitui South early next year; 2020. The honey festival is going to carry out innovative awareness creation activities (including a honey football tournament, a honey road race, a honey beauty pageant, a honey cycling event, etc.).

A complete paradigm shift in our mindset and the way we imagine, intellectualize, and contextualize development(in nearly all of Sub-Saharan African Countries) is urgently needed;

Value Addition and not necessarily more production are what is likely to see the people of Kitui South in particular and Kitui County and Kenyans in general, get out of our poverty circle and shared hopelessness. On this, Kitui County has slowly but painfully started walking the talk.