Kenya: Livestock Bill Will Not Kill Beekeeping, Says PS Harry Kimtai

Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai has allayed fears that the proposed Livestock Bill 2021 will disrupt beekeeping as the uproar over the Bill gathers momentum.

Parliament has suspended the unpopular beekeeping law plan that sought to outlaw farmers from keeping bees for commercial purposes except in an apiary or home of bees registered by the government.

"The proposed Livestock Bill is at public participation level and as a Ministry, we're very happy by the reactions from beekeepers and other stakeholders and we are taking their concerns seriously," said the PS.

The PS said: "For the first time the beekeeping enterprise is being put on the right track. Through the proposed Bill, it will encourage the traditional beekeepers to adopt modern beekeeping methods and earn good money."

Traditional beekeeping methods

"The government seeks to turn the old traditional beekeeping methods into a profitable enterprise and not to stifle the beekeepers' efforts to reap from their sweat," explained the PS.

He said one of the issues the beekeepers have raised is the registration and this should not be a big deal as the beekeepers will work closely with the counties.

"The registration is crucial as the counties want to know where the beekeepers are located or operating in which forest like the Ogiek and whether they have a licence and also whether they have an agreement with the Kenya Forest Service among other requirements," said Mr Kimtai.

He said it was important to have such data to understand their mode of operation.

"We want to register them to put them in a proper value chain. Beekeepers should not feel that this registration is a penalty. I want to assure the beekeepers that there are no registration fees," explained the PS.

The PS said the Sh500 penalty fees the beekeepers are worried about is not targeting them, but it is a general penalty in case they commit an offence against the proposed law.

He urged the beekeepers to give out their views during the public participation before it goes back to Parliament for debate and passing into law.

"This draft is a big blow to beekeepers in arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya who rely on the venture for their livelihoods," said Mr Joshua Kaplamai, a beekeeper in Baringo County.

Traditional equipment

"The State will not interfere with the beekeepers' production. What we want to know and establish is the kind of equipment they are using, and whether they are modern or old traditional equipment," added Mr Kimtai.

He appealed to communities that have been using traditional methods to embrace the new technology of beekeeping so that they can benefit from the government programmes like the Kenya Livestock Commercialisation Programme that will be rolled out in July.

The PS said the registration will come in handy when it comes to traceability.

"We have a big challenge with the current honey in the market because of the residue levels and the pests, and we want to know if you're producing honey which region are you producing from and when we come to collect the sample for residue monitoring we shall know which apiary we're dealing with," he added.

He said this will enable the modern laboratory at the Kenya Veterinary Directorate to conduct a honey residue monitoring to enable the country to tap into external markets.

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