Don calls for new approaches to food production

Dr. Jake makes his presentation on how weather can change interactions between crops and beneficial organisms

Climate change prediction models have indicated that food production in the future will be a challenge due to increased temperature and fluctuating rainfall patterns.

According to Dr. Jake Bishop, a researcher from the University of Reading, United Kingdom, 75% of staple crops globally, rely on insect pollinators which he warned were being phased out by climate change.

The Don from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development was speaking at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology where he delivered a keynote address based on the findings of his research to postgraduate students and staff of the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, May 30, 2019. The study was titled: How weather can change interactions between crops and beneficial organisms such as animal pollinators, natural enemies of pests and Rhizobia bacteria’ 

Basing his research on faba bean and wheat pollination, Dr. Jake revealed that high temperatures damage plants at key stages such as flowering and early seed development. He dreads that food production could plummet around the world with the possible extinction of pollinator populations.

The don recommended that it was time for human kind to revise the global food security agenda by either producing plants that depend less on the pollinators or conserve the pollinators.

Prof. Willis Owino, a lecturer in JKUAT’s Department of Food Science and Technology said the research findings can be used to utilize historical trends of climatic data to estimate likelihood of either heat or rainfall stress in Kenya.

Participants keenly follow the lecture

Prof. Owino, who is also a Co-principle investigator in collaborative research between the University of Reading, JKUAT and Technical University of Mombasa underscored the significance of sensitizing small holder farmers on the relationship between plants and animal pollinators saying, “it will guide them on the specific choices on what to produce and minimize crop losses due to unfavorable weather conditions.”

He urged the postgraduate students to pick up practical research thesis in order to collect data on agricultural production in a bid to identify what is the causative factors for agricultural losses and how to address them.

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