Youth taps into value addition for sweet returns

By Milliam Murigi
Tuesday, June 9th, 2020
Ian Mutwiri displays his honey and tamarind products. Photo/PD/BERNARD ORWONGO

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

At his tender age, Ian Mutwiri used to watch his grandfather practice beekeeping.

He would assist him in the work after school or during holidays, but he never loved the venture simply because it was not a rewarding one and also it required a lot of work during harvesting.

His grandfather used to share honey after harvesting with his neighbours for free since most of them weren’t willing to buy it.

Back then a two-kilogramme tin was going for around Sh200. 

However, things have changed and Mutwiri is a well-known beekeeper in Mara, Tharaka Nithi county.

He is the proprietor of Ian Farm House,  a firm that produces value-added organic tamarind paste and honey.  

Armed with Sh15,000 from his savings from a communications job in 2017, he bought the required bee-keeping equipment.

He asked some youth from his rural areas who were into beekeeping to supply him with honey. He also sourced for tamarind fruits from different farmers.

After that, he started processing and adding value to the products after thorough research online. 

Later, his products were approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS) and was given a go-ahead.

In 2018 he registered his products and acquired the required certifications.

“Now I have my own hives to compliment what I get from the youths. For tamarind, I am still working with contracted farmers,” he says. 

Despite frustrations from lack of customers at first,  the business has been growing. 

He now processes the products using traditional methods and packs them in glass containers for  sale.

The products branded Beeyond Forest Honey and Tamarind paste, are certified by KeBS, have bar codes and his farm’s logos. 

“I have 10 hives, which can produce up to 8kg per harvest. I harvest four times a year, so I get 32kg per hive per harvest. I get 320kg from my hives annually,” he says. 

He also buys raw honey from a local group of youths who now have 100 hives. Individuals buy his products, but he is expecting to hit supermarket shelves soon.

Currently, Mutwiri can produce up to 50kgs of honey  and the same quantity of tamarind paste per week.