Star technology of the 2009 Bio Taiwan Exhibition
The "Wings of Agriculture, " an environmentally friendly crop pollination technology, has been selected as the star technology of the 2009 Bio Taiwan Exhibition, according to the Council of Agriculture (COA).
The technology developed by a COA research team in Miaoli County using honey bees promises to contribute to natural and healthy crop production, the Council said.
The worldwide economic value of insect pollination, of which bees account for 80 percent, is around 153 billion euros annually for the main crops that feed the world, according to the council's data.
Taiwan's production of crops pollinated by bees is worth as much as NT$50 billion a year, the Council noted. As a result, bees are fully deserving of their title "wings of agriculture."
"Wings of Agriculture, " part of the July 23-26 annual Taiwan biotechnology exhibition at Taipei's World Trade Center, involves specially designed portable and temporary cardboard hives that are used to transport bees to areas of crops enclosed by netting.
A box containing pollen gathered by the farmer is then placed at the entrance to the temporary hive, through which the insects must pass, coating them in pollen.
This innovation means that they pollinate the crops much more intensively and effectively than would otherwise be possible. Both the temporary hive and the pollination box have been awarded patents by the government as a system proven to increase crop production.
There has been an alarming decline in bee populations across the United States and Europe since 2006 that experts believe represents a potential ecological apocalypse and an environmental catastrophe that some believe could lead to a collapse of the global food chain.
In light of the problem, known as "colony collapse disorder," the Miaoli Agricultural Research and Extension Station, in cooperation with Department of Entomology, National Taiwan University, has established its system in which locally raised Italian bees are brought in the temporary hives to areas of crops enclosed in nets, which saves money and ensures more efficient pollination.
According to the Council, the technique has been successfully applied to fruits cultivated in open fields such as high stem-grafting pears, peaches, Indian jujubes, watermelons, muskmelons and passion fruit, as well as crops planted in the netted areas such as papayas, balsam pears, cucumbers and Luffa cylindrica.
By using the technique, for instance, the high profit pear ndustry can save 85 percent of its manpower needs and the value can be up to NT$3billion for farmers.
During the annual exhibition, the Council commended those outstanding beekeepers in recognition of their contributions to the country's agricultural production contribution.
The exhibition also featured shows for children such as a bee pyramid and beekeepers wearing clothes made of thousands of living bees.