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Hutton researchers promote UK-India dialogue on pollinators

UK-India Initiative in Agroecology (c) James Hutton Institute
"This meeting aimed to share and contrast the knowledge-base and focus of agroecologists in Indian and the UK, and a joint paper on the contrast and commonalities is planned as an output from the meeting.

Land use and ecological surveys are urgently required to assess the ecology of pollinating insects within and around agricultural systems in India. That is one of the aims of the UK-Indian Initiative in Agroecology, whose first meeting at the University of Calcutta, Centre for Pollination Studies (CPS) featured presentations by James Hutton Institute researchers Tracy Valentine and Pietro Iannetta, whose attendance was supported by the British Ecological Society.

The CPS is a collaborative initiative between the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (UK) and the University of Calcutta. It has been established through the Darwin Initiative of the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in partnership with the Government of India's Department of Science & Technology. The objectives of the CPS are to increase understanding and of native pollinators and the wider agro-ecosystem so that the best management options may be used to improve the livelihood of subsistence farmers.

The decline of pollinator populations has serious socio-economic consequences for countries like India, which hosts a large population of small and marginal farms for whom falling yield level would be critical. At the same time, the uptake of Western high-input monoculture based systems has left a large and negative legacy in an emerging economy that is still predominantly agrarian.

Dr Tracy Valentine, root biologist at the James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie, said: “While the structure of agriculture in the two countries may appear very different, common issues ranged from the loss of pollinators through to soil erosion. Other key areas discussed were methods to retain and preserve both the seeds stock of local varieties of plants but also the associated local knowledge of these varieties ecology.”

Molecular ecologist Dr Pietro Iannetta commented: “On average, farmers in India own around one hectare of farmland, and the switch to intensive farming has resulted in the loss of their historically diverse farm systems, associated underpinning knowledge and linked semi-natural habitat.

“This meeting aimed to share and contrast the knowledge-base and focus of agroecologists in Indian and the UK, and a joint paper on the contrast and commonalities is planned as an output from the meeting.

“It is clear that agroecology in India has a strong community and social focus, and may even be characterised at ‘socioecological’. More work needs to be done in re-capturing lost skills and develop more profitable approaches, including local solutions for integrated pest management.”

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Printed from /news/hutton-researchers-promote-uk-india-dialogue-pollinators on 25/05/19 07:15:14 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.