The government, responding to a public uproar, has withdrawn proposed legislation that would have imposed stringent measures on beekeepers.
The Livestock Bill, 2021 was to be introduced for its first reading on Tuesday afternoon but was removed from the agenda for the day, in what Speaker Justin Muturi said was to allow for further consultations.
Mr Muturi told lawmakers that he had received a request from Majority Leader Amos Kimunya to withdraw the controversial proposed legislation.
“I have seen a lot of comments about beekeeping, I think that is one of the issues that have raised a lot of concerns. Let the originators of the bill consult further,” he said.
Mr Kimunya confirmed to Nation.Africa that he had withdrawn the bill to allow for more talks. The bill, which he sponsored, has several proposals with far-reaching implications on beekeepers.
It proposes tighter regulation of the practice of apiculture, specifically in relation to farmers maintaining bees, the location and the type of hives.
Under the bill, it would be illegal for a farmer to keep bees for commercial purposes or own beekeeping equipment without a certificate of registration, which will be renewed annually.
Had MPs proceeded to debate the bill and passed it, beekeepers would have been required to register their land as apiaries.
“A person shall not allow bees to be kept on land owned or occupied by the person unless the land is registered as the location of an apiary,” the bill states.
The proposed legislation also requires beekeepers to register and acquire a licence from the county government before setting up hives.
Also in the bill is the proposal that the government will prescribe the type of hives and brands that farmers will use. The bill also empowers the Ministry of Agriculture to impose restrictions on land to be used as apiaries.
The proposals have caused a public outcry, especially among small-scale farmers, who accused the government of trying to lock them out of the beekeeping business.
Others said the government was trying to drive them out of business in order to allow rich and large-scale beekeepers to dominate the market.