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  International Fund for Agricultural Development

Programme for Improving Income-Generation Options Based on Sericulture and Apiculture Technologies in Africa. Phase II

Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) Information
TAG Number: 491
Grant Amount: USD 1,600,000 (of a total cost estimated at USD 4,830,000)
Countries: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, with 24 African country networking partners (SARNET)
Implementing organizations: International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Other institutions collaborate with ICIPE to implement project activities, including Ministries of Agriculture, NGOs and national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) in the participating countries; Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Kenya; International Bee Research Association (IBRA), UK; NWS, Australia; Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), China; Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF); CSB and CSBR, India; CLARO, Switzerland; FAO
Grant type: Agricultural Research Grant
Duration: Three years
Grant approval: 12 April 2000
Starting date: 17 August 2000
Closing date: 31 March 2004


As population growth stresses many parts of Africa’s forests and agricultural lands, the adaptation of research and extension services to meet the needs of farmers for nutrition security and incomes, while conserving the environment, becomes increasingly relevant. In apiculture and sericulture, there is scope for developing innovative technologies that will meet these needs. Apiculture and sericulture can be undertaken as rural micro-enterprise initiatives by resource-poor farming communities.

Although bee-keeping is practised throughout Africa, the technology used by smallholders is generally very basic and results in extremely low yields, poor product quality, and often the destruction of hives. It is also a potentially hazardous activity. However, apiculture can not only generate income, but also aid nutrition and lead to increased yields of many tropical crops through enhanced pollination.


Sericulture has a long history in Africa, but development has been constrained because of the lack of facilities for the commercial production of eggs, and the limited attention paid to the processing requirements of cocoons. While cocoon production is a normal farming activity, it is only part of a chain of activities that needs to be completed to produce high-value outputs. The habitat and species loss of the wild silk moth in Africa is immense, while the potential for harvesting wild silk is not widely realized.

These initiatives can be integrated with the community’s routine farming activities, but are particularly attractive options for rural off-farm employment and for income generation in harsh agro-ecosystems where food production is marginal and the risk of crop failure is high. Such options, which have the potential to address income and household food security needs through activities both on and off farm, while having positive impact on the natural resource base, relate well to rural poverty-alleviation strategies for IFAD’s loan portfolio, as pursued by the regional divisions.

Grant purpose

To improve income generation for poor rural households in Africa through the development of apiculture and sericulture technologies.

To continue participatory adaptive research based on apiculture and sericulture to validate further and promote promising development options for resource-poor communities.


Validation of production modules

Apiculture and sericulture technologies used in the field are being validated in various geographical locations.

Establishment of grainages for the production of silk moth eggs

Two such facilities have been established by ICIPE, one at its Mbita Point field station in western Kenya and the other at the Sericulture Development Centre in Uganda.

Honey bee line-breeding

Honey bee line-breeding facilities have been established at ICIPE. Races of honey bee are being field tested, and the most productive races for commercial application will be selected. The honey bee line-breeding programme will be employed to produce breeds of bees with specific traits.

Location-specific issues

Geographical constraints to the adaptation and adoption of apiculture and sericulture technologies are being identified and resolved.

The disease and pest problems in various geographic locations are being identified. Cultural and traditional influences in technology adoption are being determined. The constraints to successful product development in different locations will be resolved and quality-control practices implemented to comply with international standards.

Establishment of pollination services

The extent of production increase in field crops due to adequate pollination will be assessed, and information disseminated to farmers. The contribution of bee species to crop pollination will be assessed and strategies to conserve key pollinators developed. This technology, once developed, will be applicable to other crops.

Project design and implementation

On the basis of technologies developed in sericulture and apiculture during Phase I of the programme, the transfer of information to national agricultural research systems (NARS), farmers, government extension workers and local NGOs is being facilitated by ICIPE through intensive courses and demonstrations.

Capacity building

The capacity of local farmers and research staff is being improved. Training courses for bee-keepers, NGOs and government officers have been undertaken. Arrangement are being made for the strengthening of scientific staff to undertake local and regional research and to backstop the adoption of the technology packages. The technology will be disseminated through two international workshops and training of NARS, as appropriate.

Marketing strategy

A marketing strategy for apiculture and sericulture-based products has been proposed and demonstrated. Problems in the marketing of apiculture and sericulture products have been identified. In addition, a marketing strategy for bee-keepers and silkworm farmers is being developed and will include the identification of relevant market linkages with private traders. Quality, pricing and placement are the most important factors for the development of the marketing strategy, and ICIPE will act as a catalyst in these linkages.


Validation trials are ongoing in several places in eastern Africa. Review missions report both a high degree of economic viability and good community-level acceptance.

Two silk moth egg production facilities (grainage) are almost fully established in Kenya and Uganda for African silk farming communities. This will provide significant production support to communities requesting inputs and will contribute to raising silk production to levels which will ultimately establish a full-fledged sericulture agro-industry in eastern Africa.

Significant employment opportunities for the rural landless should develop in the market-linking entities, while primary producers (of cocoons and honey) will benefit from higher income and improved nutrition – with direct impacts on home food security and child malnutrition in rural areas where IFAD research sites are present.

A honeybee line-breeding programme is established in Mbita Point Field Station, ICIPE, Kenya, and Hoima, Uganda, for developing productive races of bees to support the value-adding noted above.

Quality control labs for testing silk and honey have been established, and cultural barriers and disease bottlenecks for adoption of silk and honey technology have been resolved.

Impact assessments of income, health and education are ongoing.

ICIPE has been able to leverage IFAD’s grant support to mobilize cofinancing and other donor involvement. Support has been received from World Bank, UNDP/GEF, UNDP/Trickle Up, EU Micro-Enterprise Support Programme (MESP), US Ambassador’s Self Help Fund, and British High Commission (DFID). This is ensuring a high degree of scalability and replicability as other donors build on IFAD’s pioneering donor role.

Impact assessment of IFAD-supported technology development has shown direct impact on income, health and nutrition (with improved education, numeracy and awareness as spillover benefits) for truly poor communities living in resource-poor areas. In many cases these are in IFAD loan project areas but not yet reached through IFAD loan channels.

Marketplace development sre providing outlets of the silk and honey-based products, through linkages with traders and private investors. The development of bee pollination services for better food crop production, and the overall validation of a wild silk farming industry by so many communities in eastern Africa promises good potential for scaling up and self-sustainability without need for ICIPE/IFAD support. There is evidence of auto-extension – generating demand for initial production support and training that cannot be met from grant resources.

Direct links have been established with other IFAD projects, such as the new Kenya Loan, the design of which is based on ICIPE’s IFAD-TAG-financed research outcome. This is expected to enhance poverty impact in the future.

The widespread impact potential noted by independent reviewers from IFAD and the scale and multiplicity of sites and communities reached demonstrates the highly catalytic role of the TAG and the good rate of return on investment.

Links to other IFAD loans

Central Kenya Dry Area Smallholder and Community Services Development Project

Farmers’ Group and Community Support Project

Western Kenya District-based Agricultural Development Project

Links to related research results

Buzzing bees and their products. Dr Suresh K. Raina, ICIPE

In a spin for silk. New Agriculturalist on-line

Development of regional marketing facilities for honeybee and silk moth (apiculture and sericulture) products for the local community in eastern Africa. By Hans R. Herren, Director General, ICIPE. Presentation in the Session on Process and Mechanisms to Formulate and Manage Global Partnership Programmes, in Technical workshop on methodologies, organization and management of global partnership programmes. IFAD, Rome, 9–10 October 2001

Bees – all sweetness and light?

Beekeeping in Africa

Technical Advisory Notes

Four Technical Advisory Notes (TANs) on Api-Sericulture technologies are under review for publication.

In addition, the following publication were prepared:

Raina SK, Kioko E, Adolvar V V, Muiru H, Kimbu Development, Wei S, Ouma J and Nyagode B (1999). A review of the Commercial Insects innovative research and technology development in Africa. In the Conservation and utilization of Commercial Insects, Raina SK, Kioko Eand Mwanycky S W, Eds (1999). Proceedings of the first international workshop on the conservation and utilization of commercial insects, Dudeville, Nairobi, Kenya 18-21 August 1997.

Raina SK, Kioko E, Adolvar V V, Muiru H, Kimbu Development, Ouma J, Nyagode B, Waruiru J and Nguku E (2000). ICIPE’s groundwork in building African commercial insects farming industries for the new millenium. In the Conservation and utilization of Commercial Insects, Raina SK, Nyagode B, Aldovar V, Kioko Eand Mwanycky S W, Eds (2000). Proceedings of the second international workshop on the conservation and utilization of commercial insects, Dudeville, Nairobi, Kenya, 28 November-1 December 1999.

Raina SK (2000) The Economics of Apiculture Modules for income generation in Africa. International Bee research Association UK. pp.86


Dr Suresh K. Raina
Principal Scientist and Programme Leader,
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)
Commercial Insects Programme (CIP)
P.O. Box 30772
Nairobi, Kenya.
E-mail: sraina@icipe.org
Telephone: INT+254+ 802 501/3/9 or 861 680-4
Fax: INT+254+ 2-860 110/803 360

Contact in IFAD

Dr Shantanu Mathur
Technical Adviser, Economic and Financial Analysis
Technical Advisory Division, IFAD, Rome