Monday, July 19, 2010

Making a buzz about biodiversity

By Susanna Thorp, Wrenmedia

Bees pollinate three-quarters of the world’s crops. The production value of insect pollinated crops is four times those that are not. And yet very little recognition is given to their role, according Kwame Aidoo, a scientist at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana during a presentation on the significance of pollinator biodiversity on the opening day of FARAweek.

Pollination gives better quality, better production, but habitat destruction and degradation is putting Africa’s pollinators at risk, said Aidoo. “Reliance on national parks is not sufficient to preserve bee diversity; land use practises must enhance conservation of pollinators,” he said.

According to Aidoo, a systematic assessment of the decline in crop yields due to the absence of pollinators and the development of participatory methods to assist farmers in collecting data on pollinators are needed.

“We also need more information on the effects of pesticide concentrations on social and solitary bees and we need identification of habitat management practices to best build up pollinator populations,” he added.

“There are strong expectations that intensifying agricultural production in Africa will address issues of hunger and poverty. However, we need to grasp the opportunity to build on and enhance the natural wealth of Africa’s ecosystems. Pollination serves as an excellent flagship area of R & D for Africa,” Aidoo told participants.

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