Islamabad : While honeybees help achieve food security, protect environment and balance nature, human-caused rapidly shifting and erratic weather patterns pose a grave threat to their very survival, said special assistant to the prime minister on climate change Malik Amin Aslam on Tuesday.
“With many wild bee species only able to survive in specific temperature ranges, global warming has placed today the global bee population in peril,” he told the PM National Apiculture Programme launching ceremony here on Tuesday.
About the drivers of bee losses, the premier’s aide said climate change led to some flowers blooming earlier or later than usual, leaving bees with fewer food sources at the onset of the seasons.
He said bees suffered habitat loss from development, abandoned farms, and the dearth of bee-friendly flowers, while some colonies collapsed due to plants and seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, or harmful parasites like mites.
Malik Amin, however, said while bees were the most important pollinators, unfortunately, the populations of the creatures were in decline.
“The decline of these pollinators is also linked with land-use change, the spread of disease and agrochemical use,” he pointed out, referring to other environmental threats to bee populations in addition to global warming.”
To reverse that decline, he suggested that controlling the use of chemicals in agriculture, adoption of sustainable land use methods, environmental conservation, boosting forest cover, and mitigating climate-altering carbon emissions significantly improve pollinator resilience and help fight population losses for achieving the overall food security and restoring the nature’s balance.
“Conservation efforts need to address declines in all pollinators in terms of developing landscapes to support pollinator communities, not just honeybees,” he said.
The PM’s special assistant said there was a pressing need for an over-arching, viable attempt to ameliorate pollinator decline through agri-environment schemes, using crop diversification, protection of natural habitat, and establishing ecological focus areas such as wildflower strips.
He urged all stakeholders to join hands for collaborative measures to deal with challenges that post threats to the lives of the bees, failing to which would only lead to declines in food productions, rise in food insecurity, hunger, malnutrition and poverty levels.
About the goals of the national apiculture programme, Malik Amin said the ambitious initiative was meant to boost honey beekeeping in a more natural way as an alternative source of livelihood for poor and marginalised households and additional income source for farmers, sustainable environmental conservation and enhanced food security.
“Plantation under TBTTP will help strengthen the entire beekeeping sector in the country not only by producing best export quality honey but also boost the production of many valuable products like royal jelly, bee pollen, bees venom,” he said.
The premier’s aide said the initiative would also provide opportunities for the young people to adopt modern beekeeping after getting training from the relevant government institutes, support in getting interest-free loans from money lending banks and extend support to the potential beekeepers regarding honey testing facilities from the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and proper buy-back arrangements.
“Ideally, under the apiculture programme, more than 80,000 local green jobs would be generated through Billion Tree Honey product to be produced as a result of the programme,” he said.
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