THE federal government has committed to invest in raising awareness of the crucial role bees play in agriculture as well as breeding better bees to pollinate our food crops, according to Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud.
“Without bees, two thirds of Australian agricultural production would be at risk,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Bees pollinate our fruit, vegetables and other crops, including those which feed the livestock which supply our meat. We need healthy bees for our food security.
“The annual economic value of honey bee pollination in Australia is around $14.2 billion, which is 140 times greater than the $100 million annual value of the honey bees produce.
“We’ll invest $1.5 million to promote the role of bees in agriculture and the entire food chain.
“This will inform farmers and the community on how they can protect bees, reducing risks of their decline and increasing their numbers in Australia.
“Agrifutures Australia will coordinate delivery of the project and work closely with apiarist organisations to make sure it’s done well.
“We’ll also invest $1.65 million to breed honey bees with improved traits for primary producers.
“The funding will contribute to a national genetic improvement program that will have benefits for decades to come.
“This will result in more efficient bees to drive our horticulture and broadacre industries that depend on honey bee pollination.
“This project could create gains of $41 million in honey production alone over 25 years.”
The funding for the breeding program will come from the Rural R and D for profit program.
In 2016, the federal government invested $5.2 million in a Securing Pollination project, to assess the contribution of pollinators to nine crops, reestablish native vegetation to support pollinator food and nesting resources, and use new technologies to communicate the findings to crop farmers.