Pollinating insects are crucial for many natural habitats and the production of the majority of food crops. However, the number of pollinating insects has declined significantly across Europe, and the rest of the world, which exacerbates an already insecure food supply. According to a EU-funded research project, pollination services provided by insects are worth EUR 153 billion a year globally, accounting to 9.5% of the total value of the world’s entire agricultural food production.
Operation Pollinator is a 5-year EUR 1 million program, launched by Syngenta in July 2009, to provide essential habitat and food sources for pollinating insects across Europe. The project aims to boost the numbers of pollinating insects in order to protect biodiversity and improve crop yields and crop quality.
The programme is based on the success of Operation Bumblebee in the UK where, within three years, the project increased bee populations up to 600%, increased butterfly population 12-fold, increased other insects by more than 10-fold and helped contribute to the regeneration of rare species.
Operation Pollinator is currently being run in France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the UK. The project uses scientific research findings to develop site-specific ways of creating habitats alongside the working farming environment. Additionally, careful site planning and management can significantly reduce soil erosion and help to protect valuable water resources from soil and nutrient degradation.
This initiative shows how farmers have an important role to play in maintaining natural habitats and other ecosystem services to protect biodiversity.