Copa and Cogeca underlined the importance today of bees as pollinators to provide us with quality food and agriculture at a major event held in European Parliament in Brussels during bee week.
Speaking at the event “Bees caring for Europeans. Europeans caring for bees?”, hosted by Mariya Gabriel, Copa & Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said “We represent 23 million farmers and 22 000 cooperatives with a key objective to ensure that European agriculture is sustainable, innovative and competitive, guaranteeing food security to half a billion people throughout Europe. To make this possible, we as farmers rely on pollination to grow our crops and beekeepers also need enough crops to provide feed for their colonies. Crops are one of the key factors to maintain the availability of feed for pollinators. At the same time, a large part of our food production relies on pollination in order to preserve crop productivity, crop diversity and ensure quality of production. The two consequently go hand in hand.
In addition, bees and pollinators play an important role in biodiversity.
He went on to underline that the EU is the world’s second biggest honey producers but over the last 10 years, the number of beehives have increased by more than 30% while honey production remains the same. “Recently, there has therefore been greater interest in understanding bee mortality. The more we know about it, the more we realise that this is a multifactorial issue. Parasites, viruses, diseases, variable weather conditions and climate change are some of the causes behind it.For this reason, European farmers recognise the importance of maintaining and creating suitable conditions in Europe to protect bees and pollinators for the benefit of European agriculture”, Pesonen said.
Farmers and growers have made great efforts to develop many good practices which are already in place across the EU. These measures include:
> voluntary initiatives to enhance feed resources for bees
> ensuring sustainable use of plant protection products
> CAP agri-environmental measures which foster biodiversity and bee habitats
> value chain initiatives with specifications that integrate good agricultural practices
> initiatives which are consumer-driven AND
> initiatives to increase the number of managed beehives
Wrapping up Mr Pesonen said, “Copa and Cogeca believe that dialogue and cooperation among farmers and beekeepers as the cornerstone for win-win solutions. We want to stress once again the importance of agriculture for pollinators and vice-versa and the need for a local and bottom-up approach based on on-field information. It is in everyone’s interest for farmers to continue to ensure good practices favourable for pollinators whilst remaining economically viable and for beekeepers to maintain dialogue with farmers so as to ensure the development of locally tailored solutions that will bring mutual benefits”.