Role of pollinators for agricultural productivity

Pollination is an essential regulatory ecosystem service for crop production, directly linking wild ecosystems with agricultural production systems. Animal pollination accounts for roughly one third of the world’s crop production, yet a decline in pollinator populations is a concern, prompting a response at the international policy level. Through the GEF/UNEP/FAO Global-sized Pollination Project, a protocol was developed for assessing and detecting if a crop production system is suffering a pollination deficit. Over a period of five years, the protocol was applied in 344 fields from 33 pollinator-dependent crop systems in small and large farms, for a study to quantify to what degree enhancing pollinator density and richness can improve yields. The study demonstrated that ecological intensification through enhancement of pollinators could contribute to synchronous biodiversity and yield outcomes

9 Role pollinators
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by Nadine Azzu - Expert, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (FAO/GEF/UNEP Global Pollination Project Coordinator 2012-2015)

DOI 10.12910/EAI2016-045

 

An essential preliminary step for the sexual reproduction of flowering plants is pollination, or the transfer of pollen from the producing anthers to the receptive stigma. Pollination is a keystone process in both human-managed and natural terrestrial ecosystems, and it is critical for food production and human livelihoods, directly linking wild ecosystems with agricultural production systems. Indeed, pollination is a key ecosystem service, providing a regulatory service for the production of crops. Although pollination can be considered a “free” ecosystem service, in fact it requires resources such as refugia and forage. Pollination can therefore be managed and hence considered as a production factor for crops, as it can affect yield but also other factors such as fruit and seed set, fruit and seed quality as well as others such as uniformity of output. Extending this further, pollination management can also have an impact on the environment (such as through good pollination management practices) and on human livelihoods. …