THE National Museum of Tanzania (NMT) has launched a six-month exhibition on pollinators conservation with the aim of securing agriculture output.
The museum’s acting Director General Dr Gwakisa Kamatula said that the main aim of the exhibition is to raise awareness on the importance of conserving the dwindling number of pollinators which have unique importance on agricultural production.
“The exhibition looks to raise awareness on conservation of habitats of butterflies and moths among other pollinators after establishing a butterfly garden at the museum’s compound. Pollinators and plants — including food crops — have unique relationship for increased agricultural output,” Dr Kamatula said.
He said that the exhibition was part of the three-year project of assessing Lepidoptera pollinator species diversity data in East Africa implemented by the museum under the auspices of JRS biodiversity Foundation.
Ms Adelaide Sallema, the museum’s senior biology conservator and project coordinator, said that the project was insisting on planting gardens which would ensure that pollinators are continuing to live for accomplishing the ecosystem.
“There are raising tendency of spraying various chemicals in farms and gardens which affects livelihood of pollinators. In these exhibitions, we aim at reminding people, including farmers on the importance of growing gardens and flowers which favors growth of pollinators if they are to have increased agricultural output,” she said.
She added that considering that agriculture employs more than 70 per cent of the country’s population and main source of food, it was a time for people to learn the importance of conserving the pollinators for the country to have food security.
“The project also seeks to establish and manage pollinators’ data and develop new ecological studies that lead to coming up with intensive pollinators conservation strategies.”
According to her, the project has already identified 96 species of butterflies and moths from biodiversity hotspots in Usambara Arc Mountains and Amani nature reserves.
She added that Tanzania has more than 1,500 species of butterflies and 1,600 moths although there is little or limited information on the role played by these creatures when it comes to pollination.
She highlighted that butterflies are commonly known for pollinating crops such as cabbages, carrots, sunflower, lettuce, and beans among others while moths pollinate pawpaw, amaranthus and other wild crops.
“Butterflies and moths are declining in the country and all over the world due to habitat destruction and environmental pollution. If efforts are not taken to revert the situation, this will lead to food insecurity and hence, economic challenges,” she said.