Highlighting the role of natural pollinators such as honey bee in farming sector, an expert from the apiculture sector has said that the poor pollination or insufficient pollination is causing a loss of around ₹15,000-20,000 crore to farming sector.

Delivering the keynote address at a national-level webinar on ‘Future prospects of apiculture in India’, organised by the Bengaluru-based University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) on Tuesday, Balraj Singh, Project Coordinator of AICRP (All-India Coordinated Research Project) on Honey Bees and Pollinators under the ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), said the annual economic contribution of pollinators such as honey bee stood at around ₹1.5-lakh crore in farming sector.

The pollinators are affected by the factors such as climate change, pollution, use of chemical pesticides and modern infrastructure such as mobile towers and large-scale solar projects.

He said the efforts of AICRP and other governmental agencies have helped create awareness on the natural pollinators leading to an increase in their numbers now.

Nearly 70-75 per cent of the pollinators belong to two domesticated species of honey bees and two wild species of honey bees. Honey bees are playing a crucial role in improving productivity in agriculture and horticulture sectors.

He said a brainstorming session on the role of pollinators in horticulture sector will be conducted during September or October.

VV Belvadi, Emeritus Scientist, Department of Entomology of UAS, Bengaluru, said that nearly 83 per cent of plants require an insect for pollination. That is the reason why the Malnad region of Karnataka with diverse flora have a good concentration of honey bee colonies, he said.

Honey production

Quoting the latest data of National Bee Board, NS Bhat, former head of Apiculture Department at UAS, said that honey production in India is at around 1.05 lakh tonnes. This figure was around 35,000 tonnes in 2005-06. The country now has around 35 million bee colonies as against around 8 million during 2005-06.

S Rajendra Kumar, Vice-Chancellor of UAS-Bengaluru, said that Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab and Bihar contribute more than 50 per cent to the total honey production in the country.

The recent decision of the Centre to earmark ₹500 crore for the promotion of apiculture in the country will help boost the potential of this sector. UAS can become the knowledge partner to help the stakeholders to explore the potential of this sector, he added.