Africa-Press – Botswana. More than 20 000 bee species and different other pollinators face challenges from human activities such as habitat loss, use of bee unfriendly agro-chemicals and climate change.

The status quo, therefore, challenges farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural practices that use pollinator friendly agro-chemicals, says Minister of Agriculture Mr Fidelis Molao.

The Minister was speaking at the World Bee Day Commemoration in Selebi Phikwe on Saturday. The day was held under the theme: Bee Engaged Youth.

He said pollinators were very important as they allowed many food crops to reproduce, adding “a world without pollinators equal a world without food diversity.”

He said without pollination service, many interconnected species and processes functioning within the ecosystem would collapse.

Beyond food, he said bees contributed directly to medicines, bio-fuels, fibres like cotton and construction materials emphasising that pollination was a cornerstone process in both managed and natural terrestrial ecosystems.

“Without pollinators there is no sustainable development goal. Bees and other pollinators are responsible for improving food production of over two billion small farmers across the world,” Mr Molao said.

He raised a concern over food production practices that harm pollinators and the collection of honey from wild bees adding that human activities such as bush burning during the collection of honey was a threat to bees and had resulted in the declining population of bee species.

Furthermore, Mr Molao explained that Botswana needed 62 metric tons of honey annually but was only able to produce 13 per cent. He urged youth to engage and invest in the beekeeping sector particularly that government had invested funds to support the sector as shown by the recently launched Thuo Letlotlo programme.

Bees and bee keeping industry, he said could be a key to unlock employment possibilities for the youth.

The peculiarity of SPEDU region as an economic hub, with a state of the art horticultural project covering over 800 hectares of citrus trees, he said called for pollination services.

“To achieve a balance between our need for food production and the health of the pollinators, we ought to adopt sustainable agricultural practices that use pollinator friendly agro-chemicals,” he said.

United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation representative Ms Lesedi Modo-Mmopelwa emphasised the importance of involving all stakeholders, policy makers, government bodies and project implementers in engaging the youth.

“By engaging young people in beekeeping activities and advocacy efforts, we can inspire a new generation of environmental leaders and empower them to make a positive impact on the world, to appreciate the role of bees for the ecological benefits over profit,” she said.

She said a world facing escalating threats demanded that all stakeholders act without delay to safeguard life, transform the agri-food systems to future-proof the planet and lock in sustainable outcomes.

She highlighted that FAO as a specialised agency of the United Nations had responded to this call through its Strategic Framework 2022-2031, which sought to support the 2030 agenda through the transformation to a more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind.

The role of bees in the survival of humanity, she said could not be overstated, urging all stakeholders to kick-start a robust awareness campaign about the urgent need to address harmful impacts of pesticides on bees and inspire collective action to mitigate these threats.

“Let us develop a sustainable, resilient and competitive Apicultural sector that will allow beekeepers to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of their enterprises for a better environment,” she said.

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