Kenya Suffers Locust Invasion and Bee Devastation
The worst invasion of tough desert locusts in 70 years has hit Kenyan beekeepers hard. The government did not get it under control initially during the first wave, so now UN small airplanes are spraying pesticides in the hopes of eradicating the locusts in the second wave. It is estimated that the locusts are impacting the lives of 3.5 million people across the region which includes parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.
One small swarm of locusts can eat the same amount of food as 35,000 people in one day.
Last year's locust invasion originated in Saudi Arabia, and stretched 3,500 miles north as the locusts traveled up along East Africa. This year, widespread spraying of insecticides intended to kill the desert locusts has instead fumigated and killed bees across many farms.
There is a severe honey drought in Kenya. The disaster is multi-faceted, with such issues as overuse of pesticides and deforestation playing a role as well. Additionally, cheap adulterated honey flooded the Kenyan market, provided by unscrupulous national and international honey traders.
This 2:02-minute video by AFP News Agency shows the devastating situation caused by these locusts in Kenya:
The honey shortage became so intense and far reaching that Kenya must now obtain honey from Tanzania.
Kenya has the potential to increase honey production, and so for now the beekeeping farmers around the country are holding on to hope that honey production will be restored.
This 2:14-minute video by KTN News Kenya gives more insight into the overlapping disasters:
In other news from Kenya, a Bungoma self-help group has turned to beekeeping and horticulture to help them save money to secure members futures through the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). Each member of the Khalekhe Group must contribute at least Sh200 each month, but some contribute more.
The group of 50 members practices beekeeping and horticulture to make the extra money to pay in for their savings. Group chairperson Tecla Wanyama says this is the safest way to guarantee the future of individual members. Even the unemployed can save by using this model. Most members are either unemployed or retired. Beekeeping and horticulture boost their incomes, and they save at least 10 percent of their total earnings this way with NSSF.
John Fwamba is organizing secretary of the group that started in 2014 with the vision to empower members so they can own property in big towns in the near future. He said morale boosting and teamwork makes saving easier in a group. In the coming years members will withdraw their savings with interest and this money will change their lives.
Bungoma county NSSF boss Damaris Gwaro praises Khalekhe group and encourages other small groups to do the same. She hails this as one of the best ways small groups can save for their future, since the savings draw annual interest. There is a common misconception that NSSF is only for people in formal employment and only they can contribute and save, but this is untrue. She hails the Khalekhe group for choosing the safest way to save for their future.
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