In September 2010, CARD launched a new initiative on introduction of new pollination systems for greenhouse vegetables through bumblebees. CARD specialists learnt about the new technology at the Study tour in the Netherlands supported and organized by Dutch governmental organization PUM – Netherlands Senior Experts (having over thirty years of experience in advising businesses in developing countries and emerging markets).
During this study tour a visit was paid to Koppert B.V. – the international market leader in the field of biological crop protection. Thanks to the highly effective cooperation established between Koppert B.V and CARD natural pollination reared bumblebee colonies were imported from the Netherlands in completely maintenance-free hives.
Proper pollination is needed for optimal fruit set and production. In the past, all greenhouse tomato growers relied on manual pollination, which was time consuming. Using bumblebees for pollination is an effective alternative and can completely replace the manual pollination. In addition to saving on labor, bumblebee pollination has many advantages, including: active at low temperatures (5°C), and windy and cloudy conditions; effective in greenhouses, high tunnels and in open air; higher yields (up to 50%) and large, high quality fruit in crops such as tomatoes, peppers and blueberries.
Currently, about 40 bumble beehives are pollinating more than 20 greenhouses in Armenia, among them also MCC credit clients who have built new greenhouses through CARD AgroCredit. The initiative will allow reducing the labor intensiveness, increasing the yield of tomato and “Nazrvan” local variety of cucumber, and improving the quality of the vegetables.
It will also make possible to increase the competitiveness of local greenhouse production, especially under the circumstances of the high natural gas cost and stronger competition of imported vegetables during off season. Right after the distribution of the bumblebees to local greenhouses, Monique van Kessel, the pollination specialist from Koppert, visited all greenhouses provided with bumblebees to consult on the new method of pollination. Very soon the Armenian customers will have the chance to taste tomatoes and cucumbers pollinated by “Koppert” Bumblebees.