To provide critical knowledge and insights to enhance the livelihoods of the hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers around the world we combine ecological science with innovation and tradition and integrate it with novel IT and knowledge to transform the way the world grows food.
In preparation for a larger scale future project that addresses sustainable farming challenges in India, the World Bee Project and the University of Reading School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD) partnership in collaboration with G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, and the Himalayan Farmlands Initiative are ready to promote productive and sustainable farming through novel innovations based on the concept of Ecological Intensification. In the ecological intensification approach natural functions such as pollination, natural pest regulation and soil fertility building are harnessed by farmers to enhance food security while protecting the wider environment through less reliance on agro-chemicals.
Starting with a pilot research programme in the Kotabagh region (in the State of Uttarakhand) we will investigate the potential for ecological intensification and test novel farming practices to improve crop pollination and pest control and reduce reliance on unsustainable and harmful inputs such as chemical pesticides and inorganic fertiliser. In addition, The World Bee Project partner Oracle will develop and make available affordable relevant technology and online tools to The World Bee Project to help it to contribute to agricultural transformation.
In India, smallholder farmers constitute more than 50% of the national population of over 1.3 billion and they are vital for India’s agriculture and rural economy.
Overall, 90 % of the world’s 570 million family farms are owned and operated by over 1.5 billion people and play a key role in global food production and genetic diversity of food supply. These smallholder farming families own less than two hectares each but operate about 75% of the world’s agricultural land. Many are poor and have limited access to markets and services. Their choices are constrained, but they farm their own land and collectively produce food for a substantial proportion of the world’s population.
We place ecological science at the centre of agriculture in smallholder farms. We combine innovation and tradition and with Oracle’s support we integrate it with novel IT and knowledge to transform the way the world grows food.
This approach can create a healthier and more sustainable food system with farmers using compost as fertilizer, taking steps to attract pollinators as well as predators that consume agricultural pests, and growing complementary crops for soil health.
In preparation for a larger scale future project that addresses sustainable farming challenges in India through development of ecologically intensified farming methods, the World Bee Project and the University of Reading School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD) partnership in collaboration with G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, and the Himalayan Farmlands Initiative are starting with a training school and a pilot study in the Kotabagh region of the Indian Himalaya. Our shared initial goal is to identify specific challenges faced by farmers in this region as well as possible solutions. The solution we will test is ecological management of crop pollinators, creation of healthy productive soils, natural pest control and zero to minimal reliance on unsustainable use of fertilisers and pesticides.