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News Release

OP ED: Caribbean Area Farmers Use Conservation Practices to Protect Pollinator Habitat, Boost Crop Production

Contact:
Luis Cruz-Arroyo, USDA-NRCS State Conservationist
787-281-4836 | 787-405-7368


USDA-NRCS Caribbean Area signature logo banner with Puerto Rico pastureland photo

By Luis Cruz-Arroyo, USDA-NRCS State Conservationist

Happy National Pollinators Week - Photo of honeybee on sunflowerSan Juan, PR, June 17, 2020 – The next time you snack on almonds, add bananas to your smoothie or eat a guava tart, thank a pollinator and thank a farmer who works hard to create and maintain habitat for their pollinators.

Pollinators like honeybees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, and many other creatures play a critical role in crop production. Without pollinators, we wouldn’t have many crops that we enjoy daily in our meals.

National Pollinator Week logo - June 22-28, 2020 - www.pollinator.orgDuring the week of June 22-28, the NRCS Caribbean Area joins groups across the nation to celebrate these iconic and crucial creatures during National Pollinator Week. This year’s celebrations theme is “Pollinators, Plants, People and Planet.” National Pollinator Week aims to increase awareness about the importance of pollinators and the challenges many of them face, including severe population decline and habitat loss from land use changes and excessive or improper pesticide use. Nearly 200 species of pollinators are considered threatened or extinct.

The extensive and critical world of crop pollinators is a $20 billion a year industry. About 75 percent of crop plants are pollinated by billions of animals and insects every year. Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species, or within a single flower by wind or insects and animals. Successful pollination results in healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing the plants to reproduce.

Many government agencies, non-government organizations and universities have launched extensive efforts to protect pollinators, especially honeybees and the Monarch butterfly. USDA works closely with farmers and other private landowners in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to increase pollinator habitat in our islands.

Graphic with information on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) conservation practice to protect pollinatorsThe Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), offers financial incentives to farmers to enhance pollinator habitat by voluntarily implementing conservation practices such as planting cover crops, converting to shade coffee, and planting wildflowers and native plants in buffers, hedgerows, vegetative barriers and areas out of production.

As owners and stewards of the land, many farmers manage their natural resources to achieve their production goals while also protecting the rich and diverse ecology on or near their operations. When we protect pollinators, we protect our ability to grow food. We thank our farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners who offer a safe haven for pollinators and grow the products we enjoy.

Whether you are a large livestock producer, a small and diverse farmer or even a suburban homeowner, you can have an important role in saving pollinators in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

You can help protect pollinators by:

  • Planting native plants. Use conservation practices and create habitat that sustains and enhance pollinators on the farm, forest or the yard.
  • Using less and more environmentally-safe pesticides, herbicides and insecticides on and off the farm. Keep your operation pollinator friendly.
  • Protecting flowering plants and potential pollinator nesting sites such as areas of undisturbed ground and native plants.
  • Minimizing tillage. Many of our best crop pollinators live underground, sometimes at the base of the very plants they pollinate. To protect them, turn over soil only where and when you need to.
  • Join campaigns like Pollinators, Plants, People and Planet with USDA and local partners to increase awareness of the importance of pollinators and the interconnectedness of all life on our planet.

Do your part to help protect pollinators. By taking action to diversify and beautify your operation or property, you could ensure that many fruits and vegetables are available and plentiful for future generations for many years to come.

For more information about pollinators and what you can do in the Caribbean Area, please contact your local USDA service center or visit www.pr.nrcs.usda.gov.

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