FAO Study Shows Benefits of Pollinators to Crop Yield Outcomes and Food Security
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With the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) expected to release its first assessment report on pollinators, pollination and food production this week, a study published by researchers associated with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) shows that pollinators such as bees play a key role in improving agricultural productivity and ensuring food security and nutrition.

fao_headquarters19 February 2016: With the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) expected to release its first assessment report on pollinators, pollination and food production this week, a study published by researchers associated with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) shows that pollinators such as bees play a key role in improving agricultural productivity and ensuring food security and nutrition.

Titled ‘Mutually beneficial pollinator diversity and crop yield outcomes in small and large farms’ and published in the journal Science, the paper argues that improving pollinator density and diversity has a direct impact on crop yields. It argues that ecological intensification (boosting farm outputs by tapping the power of natural processes) is a sustainable pathway toward greater food production. Food security strategies worldwide could therefore benefit from including pollination as an integral component.

The paper discusses a field study coordinated by FAO where scientists compared 344 plots across Africa, Asia and Latin America, and concluded that crop yields were significantly lower in farm plots that attracted fewer bees during the main flowering season than in those plots that attracted more. Larger plots also benefited from more pollinator visits, however, the impact on yields was less significant than in the smaller plots. A diversity of bees with different flight capacities would offer benefits for both smallholder farmers and for larger farms. The research also found that maintaining habitat and forage resources all year long is key to attracting pollinators and keeping them on the land for longer periods of time.

Pollinators, such as bees, birds and various types of insects, have been the invisible helpers of farmers for centuries. Nowadays wild bees are threatened by a multitude of factors, and the management of bee populations has not kept up with the increasing number of plots that grow pollination-dependent crops, concludes the report. [FAO Press Release] [FAO’s Global Action on Pollination Services] [Guest Article by IPBES Executive Secretary Anne Larigauderie] [IISD RS Coverage of IPBES-4]

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