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Closing the pollinator gap to save regional towns 10 Feb 2017

Better pollination of agricultural and horticultural crops could create up to one-billion dollars in additional business turnover nationally and create more than 2000 Australian jobs according to an Australian-first research project.

Regional Economic Multiplier Impacts and Potential Pollinator Deficits Across Crops was funded by the Honey Bee and Pollination Program and led by Michael Clarke from AgEcon Plus Pty Ltd.

The research focused on a range of crops in Victoria’s Shepparton region and investigated the economic impact of not having enough insects in the area at the right time to ensure maximum pollination results.

Researchers found that by increasing pollination in the Shepparton region the economy would potentially benefit from an increase of $78 million in business turnover and the creation of 106 jobs.
 
Chairman of the Honey Bee and Pollination Program’s Advisory Panel, Dr Michael Hornitzky, said the study is the first of its kind to quantify direct and indirect impacts of pollination shortfalls on the economy.

“Pollination deficits are due to under-visiting of crops by native bees, flies and beetles which can be a result of small populations of pollinators,” Dr Hornitzky said.
 
“If hives of honey bees are used in a crop, a pollination deficit may exist if there is poor density and strength of hives, inadequate proximity and distribution of hives within the crop, alternative honey bee targets for pollen and nectar gathering or if paid pollination services are understocked relative to best practice.”
 
The research also identified ways in which pollination rates can be increased, including more investment and better understanding of pollinators.
 
“The research will also add to the decision-maker knowledge base and contribute to the formulation of strategies to fill current pollination deficits before an exotic pest incursion potentially makes the issue worse,” Dr Hornitzky said.
 
“The research will ensure that policy makers, agricultural producers and bee keepers will have access to accurate data and analysis on the cost to regional communities of pollinator deficits and the potential benefit available from closing the pollinator gap.”

For more information, go to www.rirdc.gov.au/honeybee-pollination

Ends

Photo caption: Lead Researcher Michael Clarke of AgEconPlus Consulting.
(Click on the image above for a high resolution version)
 
Media contact: Megan Woodward 0487 352 859
The Honey Bee and Pollination RD&E Program is a jointly funded partnership with the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (Hort Innovation) and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. RIRDC funds are provided by honey industry levies matched by funds provided by the Australian Government. Hort Innovation funding is from the apple and pear, almond, avocado, cherry, dried prunes, summer fruit and onion levies and voluntary contributions from the melon and canned fruit industries. Levies are matched by funds from the Australian Government.