Insects pollinate crops, are a source of food and other products and work as natural predators in the field. Yet insects often have a negative reputation in agriculture, with the words “insects” and “pests” often used interchangeably. Billions of dollars are spent every year fighting them. Insect populations are affected, sometimes seriously, by many different factors. The decline in bee populations and in pollination, for example, is increasingly attracting media coverage, and is coming to be recognised as a serious problem. It is thought that about one third of all the food we eat is dependent on bee pollination. The use of pesticides, a loss of habitats, light and air pollution, the use of mobile phones, the cultivation of invasive exogenous species, the spread of disease; all provide potential threats for insect populations. What are the implications of this for family farmers? Can they contribute to efforts to restore insect populations?
How do insects contribute to strengthening the functions, processes and resilience of ecosystems? How can farmers support their “successful integration”? Our March 2012 issue will look at these issues, focusing on the many ways in which small-scale farmers benefit from insects, and on the steps they take in order to increase these benefits.
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