Agro Chemicals Take Toll on Crop Pollinators

1808 Views Kamuli, Uganda

In short
Crop pollinator insects are quickly disappearing from Busoga region, a phenomenon that has left farmers baffled. But comments from agriculture specialists show that the insects have been exposed to common agricultural chemicals while pollinating crops.

Crop pollinator insects are quickly disappearing from Busoga region, a phenomenon that has left farmers baffled. But comments from agriculture specialists show that the insects have been exposed to common agricultural chemicals while pollinating crops.
 
The most affected insects are butterflies and bee species that pollinate vegetable crops and most cereals. Reports from Kamuli, Mayuge and Jinja show that these insects have reduced in number partly accounting for the low crop yields in these areas.
 
Robert Mwasi, a coffee farmer in Naluwoli village in Kamuli district says bees are scarce on his coffee plantation and this has affected his coffee yields in the last two years. Mwasi practices mixed crop farming on his one acre piece of land with coffee, maize and beans on the same garden. He says two years ago, his coffee plantation grown on three quarters of an acre yielded six bags of coffee which has gone down to 3.5 bags today.
 
Irene Kalinaki, a farmer from Bugodi village in Mayuge district, who grows oranges, ginger and sunflower, says since he began using hybrid seeds, pesticides and fertilizers intensively, pollinator insects have decreased on his garden. This has also lowered the amount of his harvest.
 
Dr. Stephen Kiwemba, Jinja district Production Officer, says the most commonly used chemicals are botanically known as neonicotinoid insecticides which include acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam.  They are widely used for seed treatments for cereals and soil treatment for pot plants like flowers. These can affect populations of pollinating insects.
 
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Neonicotinoid pesticides are types of chemicals that are applied to seeds at manufacturing industries or in homes before planting. This allows the pesticide to permeate through the plant’s vascular system as it grows. It is expressed later in the crops pollen and nectar.
 
The insecticides are highly toxic to insects because they are systemic, water soluble, and pervasive. They get into the soil and groundwater where they can accumulate and remain for many years and present long-term toxicity to the hive as well as to other pollinators including birds.
 
William Ofwono  Osinde, Buginyanya Research Institute NAADS Coordinator, says research is ongoing to find out the effects of different chemicals on the ecosystem and results are yet to come out.
 
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Daniel Muwanga, Jinja Farmers Forum Chairman, says farmers embarked on the use of modern farming methods including the use of chemicals, fertilizers and hybrid seeds but need guidance on their use in order not to affect the ecosystems. This has affected them in terms of 40% reduction in crop yields previously harvested.