The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) marked yesterday (May 19) World Bee Day 2023 with a global ceremony in which participants emphasised the importance of promoting sustainable agricultural practices that respect the vital role pollinators play in nature.
Pollination is essential for the maintenance of plant biodiversity, the survival of our ecosystems. About 75 percent of the world’s crops – which produce fruits and other seeds for human consumption – depend, at least in part, on pollinators, including bees.
Under the theme “Bee engaged in pollinator-friendly agricultural production”, World Bee Day 2023 draws attention to the threats endangering these insects and the need to address them.
“Protecting bees and other pollinators is essential to guarantee agricultural production, food security, ecosystems restoration and at large plant health ,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in his opening remarks.
Pollinator-friendly practices “include crop rotation and diversity, reducing the use of pesticides, and restoring and protecting the habitat of pollinators,” Qu added, noting that “even the adoption of precision agriculture tools and innovation can protect bees. Using technology and data to optimize fertilizer and irrigation practices can reduce excessive nutrients and chemicals in water, which harm pollinators and their habitats.”
“World Bee Day has contributed significantly to raising awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators and to promoting international cooperation to protect them,” said Nataša Pirc Musar, President of the Republic of Slovenia.
“Slovenia alone has co-created more than 300 pollinator projects with partners on all continents. Pollinators have made their way into many more school curricula, political debates, research agendas, business plans and agricultural practices,” she added.
Participants at the event included the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to FAO, Elizabeth Paula Napeyok, and the Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to FAO, GUANG Defu.
In a panel discussion, bee and pollinator experts from around the world highlighted how unsustainable agriculture and pesticide abuse contribute to bees’ and other pollinators’ reduced access to food and nesting sites, exposing them to harmful chemicals that weaken their immune systems, sometimes going so far as to kill them.
They also noted how intensive monoculture production often leads to the elimination of natural areas rich in flowering plants, which are replaced by a single large crop, making significant damage to biodiversity and ecosystems.