May 10, 2019 - Why Farmers Must Treasure Insects



 Friday, May 10, 2019 - One thing farmers do not take keen interest in is the importance of insects which move in search of plant nectars and in the process end up pollinating the crops for farmers to achieve good yield. Pollinators provide an important ecosystem service for human well-being. Therefore, identifying and managing diversity of pollinators has a significant effect on the conservation and improvement of agricultural yield in terms of quality and quantity on farms.

Biodiversity and many ecosystem services provide a key contributory and constitutive factor in determining human well-being. Pollination is a valuable ecosystem service which provides a variety of benefits including food and fiber, plant-derived medicines, ornamentals, aesthetics, genetic diversity and overall ecosystem resilience. It is stated that about two-thirds of the crop plants that feed the world and many plant-derived medicines, relies on pollination by insects or animals in order to produce viable seeds. The pollinators play a great role in conserving biological diversity in agricultural and natural ecosystems, and where there is reduced agricultural yield, this is as a result of reduced insufficient pollination.

There are many types of insect pollinators but the most important are bees, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps and beetles. Many people believe honeybees are the most important pollinators, but this is not quite true.

There are other types of bees such as carpenter bees, stingless bees, mason bees, resin bees, leafcutter bees and sweat bees that are more important than honeybees for pollination. Flowering plants may be pollinated by one or more than one kind of insect pollinator. A case in point is pawpaws, which are pollinated by moths, coffee flowers, which are pollinated by bees, flies and wasps, while mango flowers are pollinated by flies, wasps and ants.

Certain crops are not efficiently pollinated by honeybees. To prevent such a situation from happening in Uganda, Professor Anne M. Akol, department of Zoology, Entomology & Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences at Makerere University, is urging areas of natural vegetation to be protected in order to sustain beneficial pollinator insects.

Most of these flowering plants are grown from seeds, although some plants can be grown from other plant parts such as stems. Therefore for these plants to produce a fruit, pollination has to take place. This is through a process when pollen grains from the male part of another flower get into contact with the female part stigma.

The pollen grains are moved by pollinators, which include insects, wind, water and a few other mammals such as fruit bats, bush babies and sunbirds. Insect pollinators are the most common and among the most important pollinators. The majority of flowering plants are pollinated by insects and if these plants are not pollinated, then they fail to produce fruit and seed, meaning farmers will be at a loss.

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