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 our key allies in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, FAO stressed as it marked UN World Bee Day.
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, 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,” said FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva in a video message recorded for this year’s World Bee Day. “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.