Sustainable delivery of pollination services to strengthen rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Sch of Agriculture Policy and Dev


Two-thirds of our major food plants depend on pollinators, and honey and beeswax produced by wild and managed honey bees and stingless bees is an important source of food and income worldwide. However, multiple interacting threats are currently causing declines in wild and managed bees around the world, suggesting that the pollination and food services provided by pollinators might be under threat. Indeed recent evidence suggests that the expansion in area of pollinator-dependent crops is outstripping the availability of pollinators. While in developed areas, we can diversify or change diets and farming patterns, many small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) do not have this option. However, their incomes and livelihoods could be improved with management and policy measures based on sound scientific understanding of the drivers, pressures and impacts of pollinator declines in SSA. Our proposal aims to identify the knowledge and capacity gaps and technological challenges currently hampering sustainable delivery of crop pollination and livelihoods supported by bee products in rural SSA. To achieve this, we will review the evidence for pollinator-dependence in crop pollination and ecosystem-dependence of honey production to clearly frame the scientific challenges in linking climate and land use to pollination services and those in linking pollinator-derived products to markets and livelihood improvement in SSA. This information will form the basis for a full ESPA proposal aimed at developing and testing scientific tools to improve delivery of pollinator-dependent services and to evaluate and implement management and policy options for sustainable use of pollinator-derived products in rural livelihoods and trade. We will develop and evaluate 5 key areas: 1) Improving management of agro-ecosystems and pollinators for service provision 2) Assessing the role of pollinator services for cash/subsistence farmer/beekeeper livelihoods 3) Enhancing the pro-poor benefits derived from pollinators 4) Prediction of, and adaptation to, climate and land use change impacts on pollinator-dependent agriculture 5) Policy options and capacity building To achieve this we will: A- Review pollinator dependency of SSA crops [key area 1] B- Review socio-ecological factors affecting livelihood benefits derived from pollinator populations in SSA [1] C- Hold a workshop at ICIPE, Nairobi 'Towards sustainable pollinator-dependent services' [1+2]; to identify the key gaps, approaches, and successful management interventions to improve pollinator and pollination services and their role in rural livelihoods in SSA. D- Hold a workshop in Leeds 'Drivers, pressures and impacts of pollinator/pollination-derived products' to explore existing and new methods to address problems and opportunities in pollinator-dependent agriculture affecting livelihoods [2], products and marketing [3] and needed to mitigate impacts to land use and climate change [4] and linkage to policy makers [5] E- Map the need for scientific and policy training and capacity building in SSA [1-5] Focussing on two closely-linked ecosystem services allows us to meet all 4 ESPA objectives for these services and at a large spatial scale (SSA, participants of 8-12 countries expected at the ICIPE workshop). We will be able to (i) create a strong evidence-base on pollinator-dependent services, their management, human use and pathways to sustainable poverty reduction; (ii) develop an innovative, interdisciplinary socio-ecological research framework to investigate current and predict future responses of plant-pollinator systems to multiple drivers; (iii) use our consortium networks (e.g. ICIPE, BfD, Apimondia, FAO) as a starting point for engagement and communication with policy makers, practitioners and decision makers; (iv) survey training and capacity building needs which will improve north-south and south-south research partnerships and southern researchers' research capacity.


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Description BBC Berkshire Declining bumbblebees 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Michael Garratt Interviewed live by Radio Berkshire following publication of paper on bumblebee decline
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015