Bees, other plant pollinators vital to life — FAO

Infograph showing benefits of pollinators. [CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations]
Infograph showing benefits of pollinators. [CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations]

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says bees and other pollinators are vital to life on our planet.

The FAO disclosed this on its official Twitter handle, Wednesday, stating some of the significant roles pollinators such as bees play in keeping the ecosystem breathing.

It says the pollinators help 75 per cent of crops producing fruits to pollinate and as well help to increase biodiversity.

According to the FAO, the pollinators help to improve food production, provide micronutrients-rich foods and maintain ecosystems.

“By cherishing bees and other pollinators, not only do we safeguard the environment and create a sustainable ecosystem, but also support the livelihoods of rural and indigenous peoples which is particularly critical in extraordinary times like the current COVID-19 pandemic,” the FAO said in a recent report while celebrating World Bee Day 2020.

The FAO report says the virtual celebration of this year’s World Bee Day was organised by the FAO in partnership with the government of Slovenia – which spearheaded the creation of the day by the UN General Assembly in 2017, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), and Apimondia – the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations

The FAO director general, Qu Dongyu, was quoted to have said, “beekeeping delivers significant social, economic and environmental benefits, it can be carried out with locally available materials and limited resources.”

Mr Dongyu said beekeeping could provide a safety net, particularly to the landless, women, youth and the disabled, enabling them to produce some of their own food and enhancing their resilience.

“Honey can also be safely stored for long periods,” he said.

Meanwhile, Aleksandra Pivec, Slovenia’s minister of agriculture, forestry and food, who took part in the virtual event, said “This year, the COVID -19 pandemic crossed our paths but it also made us aware of how important safe, stable and sustainable food chains and systems are for people and the planet, for which bees and other pollinators are vital.”

“Bee engaged – the theme of this year’s celebration – is important as it encourages and urges us to turn our words into action,” the report quoted her to have said.

COVID-19’s impact on beekeeping sector

The FAO report says COVID-19 pandemic has had a drastic impact on the beekeeping sector and the livelihoods of beekeepers. Being a labour-intensive sector, it noted it suffers from the transport and movement restrictions imposed by the governments in response to the pandemic spread.

The panelists who discussed during this year’s bee day celebration reportedly encouraged the governments to support beekeeping sector since it offers decent working opportunities and income generation to people in extreme poverty.

They said it is important to recognise bees’ crucial role in fighting poverty and malnutrition, and help beekeepers overcome the challenges they encounter in the time of pandemic.

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Supporting beekeepers

Also, the panelists highlighted the vital contribution of bees and beekeepers to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), supporting rural livelihoods, improving food security and nutrition as well as boosting rural economies.

“In fact, three out of four crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human consumption depend, at least in part, on bees and other pollinators,” the report reads

The report says pollination has a positive impact on the environment in general, helping to maintain biodiversity and the vibrant ecosystems upon which agriculture and humanity depend.

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