Are pollinators the key to healthy diets in Nepal?

Working together to discover the links between pollinators, climate change and human health in Nepal.

The challenge

Three-quarters of global crop species depend on pollinators, but this free service is under increasing threat from climate change. In countries like Nepal, where climate change is hitting hard, pollinators are particularly at risk. And as pollinators decline, so too do the yields of the crops they pollinate.

In a cruel twist, the crops most dependent on insect pollination are also those with the greatest nutritional value. Foods like fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables, which supply most of our crucial micronutrients like vitamin A and folate.

With many in Nepal already suffering from severe micronutrient deficiencies, pollinator declines as a result of climate change could amplify this ‘hidden hunger’. With no viable alternatives to home-grown foods and limited access to vitamin supplements, rural Nepali communities cannot afford to lose their pollinators.

What we're doing

Bringing together a brand-new interdisciplinary team of ecologists, medical researchers, climate change scientists and Nepali health professionals, we hope to uncover the hidden links between pollinators, climate change and human health in Nepal.

We will identify which crops are providing the most important micro-nutrients in the diets of rural Nepali populations and which insects are pollinating these crops. Using cutting edge modelling techniques, we can then predict how this will change in the face of climate change and what can be done to mitigate the negative effects.

Armed with this knowledge, we will work alongside health practitioners, policymakers and local people to devise a strategy for protecting Nepal’s precious pollinators in the face of a changing climate.

How it helps

By conserving Nepal’s pollinators, we can help to sustain and improve micronutrient access for some of the most underprivileged and vulnerable populations in the world, as well as benefitting its biodiversity. Only by bringing together such a diverse team of minds, can all this be achieved.

Lead researcher profile

Professor Jane Memmott, Professor of Ecology

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