Farmers’ Perception on Pollinators and Apple Pollination in Western Bhutan
Keywords:apple, bee, knowledge, pollination
Apples are one of the most important global fruit crops both in terms of yield and economic value, and rely on insect pollination. Pollination has been shown to increase apple production and economic value. The apple production in Bhutan has decreased from 7,051 MT in 2014 to 3,684 MT in 2018. Among the factors identified for the decline of apple quality and yield, pollinator deficits in orchards and inefficient pollination are hypothesised to be less recognised among Bhutanese farmers. Here we surveyed the knowledge and perception of farmers towards apple pollination and pollinators in the three dominant apple-producing districts of Bhutan: Thimphu, Paro, and Haa. One hundred and five farmers (35 from each district) were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. When asked about the yield trend compared to previous years, 74.3% of the respondents noticed a decrease in yield compared to the year 2019, and 96.2% of the respondents said yield has decreased over the last
five years. Sixty percent of the farmers were unaware of apple pollination and the importance of pollinators. The farmers could not differentiate between different pollinator species, with honeybees being the only pollinator known to the farmers. Education and years of working experience were found to influence farmers’ knowledge about pollinators and apple pollination. This study establishes baseline information of farmers’ knowledge in Bhutan, which will be useful to improve farm management practices that will benefit apple quality and productivity, as well as pollinator conservation.