Apiculture for Sustainable Land Use and Enhanced Community Livelihoods in Dryland Ecosystems: The Case of Makueni in Kenya

  • Caroline Mutua Kenyatta University
  • Fuchaka Waswa Kenyatta University
  • Mwamburi Mcharo Taita Taveta University
Keywords: Apiculture, Land Use, Environmental Resilience, Livelihoods, Drylands
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The scarcity of water in drylands is a major cause of crop failure, food insecurity, and consequent human ill-being. Relying on tilling and crop farming is therefore a risky investment and a direct threat to sustainable livelihoods. This calls for a shift in land use to practices that exert less pressure on land and water. Though apiculture is such a land-use practice, its adoption in the context of changing climate and increasing ecosystem vulnerability is still low. In pursuit of this dimension, the objectives of this research were: (i) to determine the extent to which apiculture is practised, (ii) to assess the challenges facing apiculture, and (iii) to assess measures required to scale-up apiculture among resource-poor farmers using Kathonzweni as a case study. Primary data was collected using a questionnaire survey that targeted 379 farmers. Additional data was obtained from secondary sources. Results showed that the majority of respondents (34.2%) relied on crop and animal production as their main sources of income, while 25.8% engaged in apiculture as an extra livelihood activity. Only 6.7% viewed apiculture as a source of food. As such, tilling the land rather than purchasing food using income from other sources remains the mindset in food security planning. Individual farmers harvested an average of 83.53 kg of honey/year and sold on average 60.67 kg/year. The income generated was an average of Kenyan Shillings 15,166.67 (USD 150) per year. Prolonged dry seasons, lack of community sensitisation, high cost of beehives, poor apiculture husbandry practices and difficulties in individually negotiating for better prices for their honey were the main limiting factors undermining this land use. Farmers were however aware of the huge market potential of hive products and the ecological suitability of the area for apiculture. Correlation analysis of quantities harvested, sold and income generated nationally revealed the existence of a very strong and significant positive relationship (r = 0.92; p=0.000). Therefore, investing in apiculture can alleviate household income limitations and the perennial food insecurity challenge in drylands while maintaining natural land cover and hence environmental resilience. Therefore, public-private synergistic partnerships based on a win-win business model are needed for increased adoption of apiculture in the context of changing climate.


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14 July, 2023
How to Cite
Mutua, C., Waswa, F., & Mcharo, M. (2023). Apiculture for Sustainable Land Use and Enhanced Community Livelihoods in Dryland Ecosystems: The Case of Makueni in Kenya. East African Journal of Environment and Natural Resources, 6(1), 198-216. https://doi.org/10.37284/eajenr.6.1.1313