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Vet on call: Beekeeping made easy for urban farmers

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By DR JOSEPH MUGACHIA
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Do you know that you can exploit certain public assets for self-gain without breaking the law and without even being noticed? I am not advocating for pilferage because that is unethical. It would also for sure get you on the wrong side of the law with the inherent damaging consequences.

I recall my trainer in 2005 at the Njiro Wildlife Research Centre in Tanzania emphasising, “There are very few communities neighbouring public resources who can exploit the assets without offending the law. But this one is so clean that even the government will encourage you to go on with your activities.”

I had gone to the training centre with one of my colleagues for a short study on appropriate beekeeping technology. The course was an eye-opener on modern beekeeping.

Two weeks ago, I was impressed by one of my clients who has used the concept to set up a honey production unit in Nairobi. He has the advantage of bordering a public forest.

Bees are termed as “emerging livestock” along with ostriches, guinea fowls and crocodiles because they are yet to enter the mainstream livestock farming in Kenya and many other parts of the world.

My client does bee farming and honey production on a small piece of land but takes advantage of the expansive public forest next door.

He also has at his disposal the many acres of ornamental flowers planted by his neighbours to beautify their compounds.

While the neighbours enjoy the buzzing of the bees busy collecting nectar and pollen from their flowers free of charge, my client laughs all the way to the bank when he harvests, processes and packs honey produced by the insects.

Modern bee farming and honey production differs greatly from the traditional honey production where hives were placed in the wild and the owners would wait for bees to occupy them and produce honey at their own time. The hive owners would also compete with wild animals such as the honey burgers on who harvests the honey first.

Bee farming and honey production is currently done using scientifically designed hives and commercial honey processing equipment.

The bee farm is also kept safe and secured both physically and in terms of hygiene, just like any other modern livestock farm.

Bees are enticed to occupy the hives and provided with plenty of plant nectar or pollen producing plants on the farmer’s land and the neighbourhood.

Bee farming has, however, not picked well in the country despite good quality honey being on high demand. A half kilo of quality processed honey retails at Sh500 while raw at Sh400. There are other honey products like propolis or bees glue and beeswax that add to the profitability of honey production.

People bordering public forests and parks such as Karura, Ngong and the Nairobi National Park should consider bee farming and honey production as long as they have sufficient land.

The beauty of these public assets is that they do not use any agrochemicals and, therefore, the bees are never at risk of poisoning.

In addition, most ornamental plants on neighbours’ compounds produce lots of nectar and pollen flowers and they are never sprayed with chemicals.

You see, if one is adjacent to a coffee farm or a large food crop farm and they keep bees, they may lose a large number of the bees or even whole colonies due to poisoning when the crops are sprayed.

I recall another client I had at Wangige a few years back who lost his bees due to spraying at a large coffee farm that bordered his farm.

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One big advantage with bees is that after the initial investment in modern hives and equipment, the maintenance cost is very low compared to other livestock. The bees clean their hives and no disinfection is required.

Bees also go looking for their own food (nectar and pollen) from their surroundings. Labour requirements are very low.

Security against pilferage of the honey, bees or the hives is largely provided by the bees with their venomous stings battle strategy.

No one will ever complain that the bees are feeding on or destroying their plants. In fact, bees are very beneficial because they aid in pollination and help in the production of food from all flowering plants. In forests, they help in the production of fruits for wild animals and seeds for maintaining the forests.

Bees on a farm may be provided with water but they are also able to get it from nearby water bodies and the water on the flowers.

On average, bees are known to travel 500 to 800 metres frequently as they forage for pollen and nectar. They have been found to travel up to 13.5km.

A solitary bee foraging in times of scarcity has been recorded to travel 24km. Bee farmers should, however, know that when the insects travel long distances in search of food, they are not able to make honey efficiently.

In addition, population losses will be high because the bees are more exposed to predators and adverse conditions such as spraying of agricultural crops.

Many people tell me they are scared of bee farming for fear of stings. Before starting bee farming, one should get expert advice and training on the farming and honey production.

Like most animals, bees are not generally wild and they never go looking for trouble. Nonetheless, most of them are very aggressive fighters when defending their territory and their leadership.

Bees live in colonies in a hive or any other place where they have settled. Colonies are distinct and members are able to identify each other.

Their leader is called a queen and never leaves the colony home unless the bees are changing location. If bees feel threatened in the colony, they fight by stinging the attacker and pursuing them to a safe distance.

Bees on the move are called a swarm. They are very aggressive, just like a military on the move, because that is the time they are most vulnerable. The queen is protected in the heart of the swarm.

When you meet a swarm of bees, you should take the lowest position, possibly lying down and staying very still until all the bees have passed.

In a bee swarm, there is the core colony which is close-knit to protect the queen. On the periphery of the swarm are the bees that act as scouts for threats and they are the ones that will initiate an attack before reinforcements break off from the colony to neutralise the threat.



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General

Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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