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KWS and Bidco merge to support communities living around human-wildlife conflict hotspots

Communities living around protected areas prone to the human-wildlife conflict are set to benefit from the support offered by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) aimed at cushioning them against the adverse effects of such conflicts.

This comes after KWS and Bidco Africa partnered to launch a project involving the growing sunflowers and beekeeping geared toward reducing human-wildlife incidents.

The project will enable the target community to receive support in planting sunflowers during the short rains season to keep away elephants who are the biggest perpetrators of such incidents.

KWS Director General Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru said they have settled on growing sunflowers as elephants are not attracted to sunflowers as a food source.

Thus, planting the crop will uplift community livelihoods as well as lower human-wildlife incidents.

Waweru said KWS would buy the sunflower seeds through Bidco and distribute them to the community for planting. KWS will also reach out to Bidco to provide beehives to residents.

On the other hand, Bidco will provide an off-take market for all sunflowers grown by communities, undertake training and sensitization on sunflower farming to communities.

The firm will also ensure prompt payment of harvested and delivered flowers to farmers as well as connecting communities to a honey value chain player, Agriculture Venture Limited.

“Obtaining community support by having them benefit directly from living adjacent to wildlife is a win-win for all, considering that a majority of wildlife live outside protected areas. Human-wildlife co-existence will be amplified if communities have a sense of ownership, and benefit from proximity to wildlife,” said Waweru.

Further, KWS will identify appropriate areas for location of projects and pilot them before scaling to other locations that experience serious human-elephant conflicts such as Amboseli, Kimana, and Loitoktok.

In 2020, KWS facilitated the identification and mobilization of communities in the identified locations and provided seeds to the farmers identified with 178 farmers registered with the exercise set to continue this week targeting 300 farmers to take advantage of the planting season.

Bidco Group director Chris Diaz said that the company’s biggest objective is to work with communities, adding that their agribusiness-driven project has a membership of 30,000 farmers who grow sunflower and soya to sell back to the firm ensuring revenues are ploughed back into communities to develop their livelihoods.

On her part, Managing Director Agriculture Venture Pauline Kamwara said the firm will incorporate beekeeping in sunflower production which increases sunflower yields and produces extra revenue streams from sales of honey.