China: Fruit trees pollinated by hand due to a lack of pollinating insects

The lack of pollinating insects in some areas of fruit production in China has forced producers to pollinate their fruit trees by hand.

In these areas, the excessive use of pesticides and the lack of a natural habitat put an end to all the pollinators that inhabited the ecosystem.

There is increasing awareness of insects and other pollinating animals for agriculture worldwide; In fact, in the long term, they are basically the only ones responsible when it comes to growing food and without them agriculture could collapse.

There are simple solutions to avoid their collapse. Studies in Europe and North America have found that it is possible to increase the population of pollinating insects by planting strips of wild flowers near crops and leaving patches of natural vegetation, such as trees and forests. These practices can also increase the population of natural predators, decreasing the need to use pesticides.

With a little effort, it is perfectly possible to grow food and at the same time take care of the environment.

In an attempt to control and transform nature to our advantage, Mao Tse Tung had the incredible idea that certain animals  (sparrows, mosquitoes, flies and mice) were harmful to the performance of agriculture, so he decided to declare war on them, beginning what was called the campaign against the four plagues, with which he intended to exterminate these four species.

The sparrow owed its persecution to the eating of stored grain, causing problems for agriculture. As a result, it was placed in the list of dangerous animals. In the words of Mao Tse Tung, "Sparrows are one of the worst plagues in China." In 1960, alerted by the increase of insects, which were the basis of the diet of the sparrows, that plan was abandoned.

But in some regions it was already too late.

Despite having stopped the persecution, the damage caused by the annihilation of the sparrows brought with it the proliferation of locusts. They were responsible for a terrible plague that had a very important impact on the Great Chinese Famine, in which 16 to 30 million people died.

As insects began to multiply, producers used insecticides and pesticides in huge quantities, which did not distinguish between beneficial and harmful insects. The result was that in large regions of China pollinating insects became extinct and among them the best pollinator on the planet: bees.

This was a huge and tremendous error, and it seems that we still haven't learned the lesson well enough.



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