In a rapidly changing environment, the alarming decline of pollinators, such as bees and moths, is becoming increasingly evident in various regions of India, including Hanumangarh, Rajasthan.
Beekeepers like Rakesh Sharma have witnessed a dramatic reduction in honey production from once-prolific colonies. While localized studies have highlighted this issue, a recent global study, published in Science Advances, has brought the broader implications to the forefront.
The research, led by experts from the University College London and the Natural History Museum, suggests that the decline in insect pollinators could jeopardize several tropical crops.
It predicts that by 2050, the risk to crop production from the loss of pollinators will be most severe in tropical regions like sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, and the Philippines are identified as the countries most vulnerable to this threat.
Cocoa, mango, and watermelon are among the crops at the highest risk.
The importance of pollinators in our ecosystem cannot be overstated. They play a crucial role in plant reproduction, facilitating the production of fruits and seeds.
In fact, around 75 percent of the world’s flowering plants and 35 percent of its food crops rely on animal pollinators. In India, moths have been recognized as vital pollinators in the Himalayan ecosystem, responsible for pollinating 21 plant families in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
Declining bee populations are already impacting crop yields, potentially leading to income and food insecurity for small-scale farmers.
The decline in pollinators can be attributed to various factors, including changes in climate, habitat destruction, improper land use, monoculture farming, and excessive pesticide use.
Habitat change, driven by urbanization and deforestation, has destroyed critical pollinator habitats. Monoculture farming incentivized by the Green Revolution simplifies biodiversity and reduces pollinator numbers. Synthetic agrochemicals like pesticides further deter pollinators from visiting crops, impacting the entire food system.
Environmental pollution, including air pollution, industrial chemicals, and sewage, has also contributed to the decline of insect pollinators.
Addressing these challenges requires global action to mitigate climate change, protect natural habitats, and promote sustainable agricultural practices.
In conclusion, the decline of pollinating insects poses a significant threat to crop production and food security, with India among the countries most vulnerable to this issue.
Efforts to protect and restore pollinator populations and their habitats are crucial for ensuring the sustainability of agriculture and biodiversity.