Syngenta to boost pollinators across Europe

Syngenta yesterday announced the roll-out of a 5-year EUR 1-million programme to provide essential habitat and food sources for pollinating insects across Europe. 'Operation Pollinator' aims to boost the numbers of native pollinating insects across seven European countries: Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Hungary.

Operation Pollinator will enable growers to cultivate wild flora that are favoured by pollinating insects on the edges or near fields of commercial farms. Growers will be provided with seed mixes, along with innovative pesticide use practices and agronomic advice designed to benefit pollinators. The programme is based on independent scientific research and progress will be assessed annually by an independent scientific auditor.

''The number of pollinating insects has declined significantly across Europe in recent years because of loss of feeding sites and breeding areas,'' said Jon Parr, head of crop protection, EAME, at Syngenta. ''Our aim is to help reverse this trend by creating an additional 10,000 hectares of dedicated habitat for pollinators. This will show that environmental sustainability and modern farming can coexist, which is critical for doubling global food production by 2050.''

Operation Pollinator is based on the success of Operation Bumblebee in the United Kingdom. Within three years, this Syngenta project increased bee populations up to 600 per cent and contributed to the regeneration of rare species such as Bombus ruderatus, previously on the verge of extinction. Butterfly population rose 12-fold and there was a 10-fold increase for other pollinating insects.

Pollinating insects are crucial for many natural habitats and the production of a majority of food crops. More than 80 per cent of European crop types depend directly on them, including many fruit and vegetables. The value of pollinating insects to the European economy is put at EUR 5 billion annually, whilst it is estimated that they are worth EUR 150 billion to global eco-systems every year.