The role Butterfly farming in forest conservation and community development in Kenya
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Butterfly farming is the breeding of butterfly pupae for sale to butterfly houses, exhibitors and natural museums. In Kenya, butterfly farming projects are located adjacent to natural forests were the utilization of the rich butterfly resources in these forests is made possible. The farming of butterflies in Kenya begun in 1993 as a local community initiative to directly generate income to the community from the forests so as to enhance conservation of the forest resources which were otherwise threatened from over exploitation. Remarkable developments have been recorded by the butterfly farming rural community in Kenya. Over 700 rural households derive their livelihoods from the forest through butterfly farming. Improvements in the line of food security, primary health care and education have been recorded. The average annual per capita income of a dedicated and organized butterfly farmer has risen from US$20 to US$ 735.5. Butterfly farming has improved the local eco-tourism, conservation education, and has lead to better involvement of the local community in managing and conserving the forest resource. However despite all these positive developments butterfly farming in Kenya has a number of challenges to meet if it has to develop to its full potential. These are mainly those challenges that are related to pupae production such as access to the proper farming facilities and the required farming technology by all the farmers, and those related to marketing of the pupa produced such as access to regular markets and improved prices of the pupae.