Animal pollinators, particularly bees, are essential for the production of fruits, vegetables and oil crops. In addition, they contribute immensely to the yields of wide range of crops that produce seeds such as legumes. Indeed the contribution of these foods dependent on bees has been estimated to form a third of our daily food needs.
With the eminent increase in world and national human population, food needs also are increasing, demanding more pollinators to enhance crop yields. Unfortunately, pollinator populations have continued to decline over the last decade in most regions of the world due to varied reasons such as habitat loss, excessive pesticides use, pest and diseases and more recently are the impacts of climate change.
Over the years where pollinators have greatly declined, bees are rented to pollinate crops. Here in Kenya and majority of African countries, crop pollination has been for long provided free by feral bees. However, this may not last long and measures are needed to protect bees and other pollinators so that we are assured of our daily food….read more
In 1996, the third Conference of the Parties (COP3) of the United Nations Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) in Buenos Aires, approved Decision III/11 on the “Conservation and Sustainable Use of Agricultural Biological Diversity”, which called for priority attention to pollinators. The Brazilian government took the lead to organize an International Workshop on the ‘Conservation and Sustainable Use of Pollinators in Agriculture with Emphasis on Bees’, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil 7-9 October 1998 dubbed São Paulo Declaration on Pollinator. The workshop recommendations provided the framework of actions and guidelines for the establishment of the International Pollinator Initiative (IPI) which was formally adopted at the fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) of the CBD, in Nairobi, in May 2000. The aims of IPI are to;
- Monitor pollinator decline, its causes and its impact on pollination services;
- Address the lack of taxonomic information on pollinators;
- Assess the economic value of pollination and the economic impact of the decline of pollination services; and
- Promote the conservation and the restoration and sustainable use of pollinator diversity in agricultural and related ecosystems.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was requested to coordinate the initiative and develop a plan of action which was adopted at the sixth Conference of Parties (COP6), decision VI/5. To achieve the aims of IPI, FAO and participating countries embarked on the development and execution of a full project on ‘Conservation and Management of Pollinators through an Ecosystem Approach’ (also known as the Global Pollination Project). The financial support is provided Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) is the implementing agency. Seven countries (Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Pakistan, India and Nepal) are participating in this project to further the understand the reasons and consequences for pollinator declines, This project aims at enhancing knowledge, capacity building, sharing information and disseminating pollinator-friendly good practices local, country, regional and global levels.
The objectives of the IPI were followed up in the first African Pollinator Initiative (API) Workshop that was held in February 2002 at Kasarani, Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting endorsed the Kasarani Declaration which developed an action plan to promote pollination as part of ecosystem services for sustainable livelihoods and conservation of biological diversity in Africa. API’s work contributes to the implementation of IPI, and also provides a good model for developing and linking regional initiatives in Africa. Participants at the first API meeting identified four regional hubs for operations namely, West Africa, East and Central Africa, Southern Africa and Northern Africa. The formation of the Kenyan Pollination Information Network is intended to be part of the East and Central Africa hub . Within the larger Global Pollination Project, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute signed separate letter of agreement with the FAO in February 2012 to develop a website prototype dissemination of pollinator information within the country. The design of the website was discussed at a meeting between representatives from FAO, KARI, NMK and KPP in July 2012. The name Kenya Pollination Information Network was agreed on after consultation with partners. The official launch of the website is set for October 26, 2012.
The Objectives of the Kenya pollination Information Network (KPIN) are:
- To build a contact roaster of in-country and regional personnel to advance local knowledge of pollinator conservation through research and mentorship programs
- To build a platform for knowledge sharing on crop pollination requirements which is accessible to all people
- To promote the use of pollinator-friendly practices that result in sustainable agriculture and improvement of crop yields and better livelihoods for farmers
- To actively engage stakeholders in discussions for protecting pollinator species and their natural habitats through participatory development and implementation of pollination management plans
- 5. To create awareness and educate the general public and policy makers about pollinators and their conservation
The activities of KPIN are to:
- Facilitate easy access to pollination information held by partners- farmers, landowners, wildlife managers, conservationists, environmentalists, educators, and many others
- Identify knowledge gaps pollination studies and develop research plans to address them
- Make available standardised methodologies and protocols for pollination research
- Plan and execute pollinator meetings, workshops and training programs
- Distribute educational materials to improve public awareness of the role of pollinators and pollination services to food security and conservation of biological diversity