Posted by Adaora Anozie

On March 3, 2016

A two-year study conducted and released last Friday by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has revealed that western honeybee produced 1.6 million tons of honey annually.

This is even as it laments that growing number of pollinator species worldwide are being driven toward extinction by diverse pressures, many of them human-made, threatening millions of livelihoods and hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of food supplies.

The assessment, titled “Thematic Assessment of Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production is the first ever issued by IPBES. It was made available on Food and Agriculture Organisation’s website as it highlights ways to effectively safeguard pollinator populations.

The groundbreaking research and the first of such assessment gave the opportunity to better understand and manage a critical element of the global ecosystem.

It stated that there are more than 20,000 species of wild bees alone, plus many species of butterflies, flies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, bats and other animals that contribute to pollination while 75% of the world’s food crops worth between US$235 billion–US$577 billion annual value of global crops depends at least in part on pollination.

Co-chair of the assessment and Senior Professor at the University of São Paulo, Dr. Vera Lucia Imperatriz-Fonseca, said: “Pollinators are important contributors to world food production and nutritional security and their health is directly linked to our own well-being.”

The volume of agricultural production dependent on animal pollination has increased by 300 per cent during the past 50 years, but pollinator-dependent crops show lower growth and stability in yield than crops that do not depend on pollinators.

Nearly 90 per cent of all wild flowering plants depend at least to some extent on animal pollination.

Although most insect pollinators have not been assessed at a global level, regional and national assessments indicate high levels of threat, particularly for bees and butterflies – with often more than 40 per cent of invertebrate species threatened locally.

It also revealed that pollinators are threatened by the decline of practices based on indigenous and local knowledge. These practices include traditional farming systems; maintenance of diverse landscapes and gardens; kinship relationships that protect specific pollinators; and cultures and languages that are connected to pollinators.