Nepal is an Agro-based nation. Trading Economics 2020 estimates that 64.64% of the Nepalese population depends upon agriculture as the means of livelihood. The agricultural yield itself is reliant upon numerous factors such as fertility of the land, quality of seeds, irrigation, and climate. However, very little credit is given to the heroes that determine the fruit quality and quantity of plants: the pollinators.
FAO reports that around $235 – $577 billion USD worth of world crops are pollinators depended. The scenario is no different in the context of Nepal; Crops like mustard, buckwheat, cardamom, vegetables, apples, litchis and many other species are co-evolved along with their fellow pollinators for bearing fruit. Apart from this, honeybees are crucial for the honey farming business in which a notable number of Nepalese farmers are involved.
The benefits of pollination are not only limited to food production, but also for the stability of the ecosystem. Myriad species of wildflowers require pollinators for variation and fertilization. The maintenance of these variations is further vital for supporting the biodiversity that thrives in Nepal.
However, recently the world has been observing an alarming disturbance in the pollination system. Many parts of Nepal are already experiencing the pilot stage of these problems. Farmers have been reporting lesser crop yields, lesser honey production along with unexplained death of birds and bees. According to Nepali Times 2017, the population of 11 different species of Honeybees found in Nepal is declining.
The pollination problem can be solved to many extents by taking small steps. Firstly, protection of pollinators requires protection of their natural habitat because pollinators thrive better on their natural home compared to the human-induced ones. Similarly, the wild pollinators are as crucial as the domestic pollinators. Commercial bee farming may help the production of commercial crops, but it is the wild honeybees that help in the maintenance of the ecosystem.
Likewise, another enemy of pollinators is the extensive use of pesticides. Pesticides, artificial fertilizers and insecticides have proven to be extremely fatal to small pollinators (as well as virtually every living creature). Moreover, these pesticides have the capability to seep from generation to generation, which affects their whole reproduction cycle.
Thirdly, changes in agricultural behaviour are necessary. The dependency on monoculture crop puts a lot of stress on a single population of pollinators. So, it is time for Nepalese people to broaden their food variety.
Protection of pollinators is not only essential for agriculture but also supporting the ecosystem that thrives in the country. So, let’s keep the buzzes and humming around corners of Nepal before it is too late.