Declining bee populations pose threats to food security

By Inspirer Staff

World Bee Day is celebrated on May 20 at the time when bee populations are declining the situation that poses threats to food security, different reports show.

The study by National Cooperatives Confederation of Rwanda (NCCR) shows that USE of pesticides in farming, traditional beekeeping techniques and drought continue to hurt honey production in Rwanda.

This is because bees die owing to chemicals used in farming.

In a recent report, beekeepers said that eucalyptus trees on which bees harvest food have been attacked by pests and this has hurt honey production.

And others have escaped due to use of pesticides in farms nearby bees habitats.

Figures show that honey production decreased from about 5,000 tonnes in 2016 to 3,500 tonnes in 2017 while there is a target to increase the production to 9,000 tonnes per year by 2024 in Rwanda.

This year, World Bee Day will therefore focus on bee production and good practices adopted by beekeepers to support their livelihoods and deliver good quality products.

What Fao says

According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the global decline in bee populations poses a serious threat to a wide variety of plants critical to human well-being and livelihoods, and countries should do more to safeguard these key allies in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

Bees and other pollinators are declining in abundance in many parts of the world largely due to intensive farming practices, mono-cropping, excessive use of agricultural chemicals and higher temperatures associated with climate change, affecting not only crop yields but also nutrition.

If this trend continues, FAO says, nutritious crops such as fruits, nuts, and many vegetables will be substituted increasingly by staple crops like rice, corn, and potatoes, eventually resulting in an imbalanced diet.

Bees are under great threat from the combined effects of climate change, intensive agriculture, pesticides use, biodiversity loss and pollution.

And experts say , the absence of bees and other pollinators would wipe out coffee, apples, almonds, tomatoes and cocoa to name just a few of the crops that rely on pollination.

Countries need to shift to more pollinator-friendly and sustainable food policies and systems.

Small creatures, huge benefits  

Bees are among the hardest working creatures on the planet providing the important ecosystem service of ensuring pollination and thus reproduction of many cultivated and wild plants, which is crucial for food production, human livelihoods and biodiversity.

Bees and other pollinators such as birds and bats, affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide, plus many plant-derived medicines.

About two-thirds of the crop plants that feed the world rely on pollination by insects or other animals to produce healthy fruits and seeds for human consumption.

Pollination benefits human nutrition – enabling not only the production of an abundance of fruits, nuts and seeds, but also more variety and better quality.

FAO carries out various activities to encourage pollinator-friendly practices in agricultural management, including the Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculture and the International Pollinators Initiative.

FAO’s recent State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture report also stresses that many species, associated with biodiversity, including bees, are under severe threat, and calls on governments and the international community to do more to address the core drivers of biodiversity loss.

Another study entitled Assessment of Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production issued by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), with input from FAO experts, highlights a number of ways to effectively safeguard pollinator populations to ensure food security and preserve biodiversity.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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