Implementing Ecological Intensification and Pollinator Restoration in Smallholder Family Farms and supporting it with novel IT and knowledge.

Implementing Ecological Intensification and Pollinator Restoration  in Smallholder Family Farms and supporting it with novel IT and knowledge

World Bee Project Farms merge ecological approaches into a new holistic approach to resilience that looks at food production and nutritional diversity at multiple scales, with socially based approaches from the farm right up to the global food system. World Bee Project Farms are linked to the World Bee Project Hive Network and participate in our globally-coordinated and regionally-balanced monitoring programme for honey bees.

Around 90 percent 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.

Today, there is a need for a sustainable agriculture in order to tackle the triple challenge of producing more food, creating more jobs and preserving the natural resource base: small family farmers lie at the heart of the solution. When sustainable, ecological agriculture is introduced, average crop yields can increase by 79%. This allows farming families to improve their incomes, empower women, educate children and pay for shelter and healthcare.

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.