Farming with alternative pollinators benefits pollinators, natural enemies, and yields, and offers transformative change to agriculture
Stefanie Christmann1, Youssef Bencharki2, Soukaina Anougmar3, Pierre Rasmont4, Moulay Chrif Smaili5, Athanasios Tsivelikas6, Aden Aw-Hassan7
1Intern. Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), BCI, Morocco
Low- and middle-income countries cannot afford reward-based land sparing for wildflower strips to combat pollinator decline. Farmers in these countries need a method-inherent and performance-related incentive. Two small-grant projects assessed, if an opportunity-cost saving land-sharing approach, Farming with Alternative Pollinators, can provide a method-inherent incentive to motivate farmers to protect pollinators without external rewards. The first large-scale Farming-with-Alternative-Pollinators project used seven main field crops in 233 farmer fields of four agro-ecosystems (adequate rainfall, semi-arid, mountainous and oasis) in Morocco. Here we show results: higher diversity and abundance of wild pollinators and lower pest abundance in enhanced fields than in monocultural control fields; the average net-income increase per surface is 121% and the pest reduction in the main crop is on average 65%. The higher income is a performance-related and method-inherent incentive to enhance habitats and to avoid pesticides. The income increase for farmers is significant and the increase in food production is substantial. Farming with Alternative Pollinators induces a reliable incentive for farmers, and the adoption rate increased by more than 10fold within a year, since the income increase is communicated in Morocco. Higher productivity per surface can reduce pressure on (semi)-natural landscapes which are increasingly used for agriculture. We simulated impacts of Farming with Alternative Pollinators concerning food production and reduction of land-use change for agriculture. Land-use change additionally endangers biodiversity and pollinators, whereas this new pollinator-protection approach has potential for transformative change in agriculture. The article demonstrating the importance of socio-economics for more sustainable agriculture was published in Nature Scientific Reports in 2021.
Keywords: Incentive, low- and middle-income countries, method-inherent, pest control, pollinators, transformative change
Contact Address: Stefanie Christmann, Intern. Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), BCI, POB 6299, 10112 Rabat, Morocco, e-mail: s.christmanncgiar.org