These advantages include:
- 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, blueberry and some varieties of cucumbers.
Learning this information from the trip to the Netherlands in May 2010, CARD specialists worked extensively to introduce the new technologies in pollination for greenhouses within short period of time.
Currently, about 30 ha of local greenhouses in Armenia are pollinated by bumblebees. The initiative allows 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 increase the competitiveness of local greenhouse production, especially in the light of growing prices of natural gas and stronger competition of imported vegetables from Iran and Turkey.
Introduction of the bumblebee in Armenia was able due to the cooperation with Dutch Expert Cees Arkesteijn and Representative of Dutch Government organizationPUM Netherlands Senior Experts Otto Wagenaar who introduced CARD to “Koppert B.V.”, the international market leader in the field of biological crop protection and natural pollination from Netherlands. Immediately after distribution of the bumblebees a specialist visited all the greenhouses where the hives where introduced to consult on placing, keeping and working with bumblebees.
Continuous and persistent support of “Koppert B.V.” made it possible to organize trainings and consultancies and the dispatch of bumblebee within shortest period of time.
A new initiative of CARD in greenhouses which started in 2011 is “Pilot introduction of integrated pest management (IPM) systems in Armenia”. The necessity to implement such project is crucial for Armenia, since pest and disease control became a real issue for local farmers. To survive in the market local farmers are treating crops with chemical pesticides and disease control means, which are not effective in the most of the cases, but heavily pollute the environment, dangerous for farmers and what is most important, these methods of treatment are returning unsafe food since farmers have to treat the plants with poisonous chemicals even at the latest stages of vegetation.
It is important to mention that local farmers often use inexpensive chemicals which are banned in EU countries for years, while more effective biological crop protection methods have been forgotten since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The main pests destroying the tomato plants are: white fly, leaf miner, and spider mite.
As mentioned above the bumblebee pollination returns a lot of benefits to the greenhouses farmers, since it allows increasing the crop yields by around 20-30 % and getting smoother and larger fruits. However, this pollination method has significant restrictions in terms of usage of chemical for pest and disease control, which makes difficulties to the farmers. The project will target to introduce the new methods of pest control and replace banned chemicals in greenhouse production.
- Creation of awareness on IPM methods and world advanced experience
Among local greenhouse farmers
Among local agronomists
- Identification of profitability of usage of IPM methods for greenhouse farmers in comparison to the traditional chemical plant protection methods
- Identification of IPM implementation nuances in Armenia
- Serving an educational spot for greenhouse farmers, where they can see that production of crops in greenhouses is possible without application of synthetic chemicals for pest and disease control.
- Calculation of costs and benefits of such technology in local environmental and market conditions, which will be provided to local farmers for evaluation of the IPM methods
- Shift to environmentally friendly and safe greenhouse crop production; decrease the usage of synthetic chemicals in greenhouse farming in Armenia
- Develop a “to do list” for farmers for application of IPM methods
Two greenhouses are will be provided with the assistance in application of:
- predator insects for pest control,
- environmentally friendly root system enhancers,
- powdery mildew control systems,
- natural pollination systems (bumblebee pollination)
All the processes of IPM application in the greenhouses will be monitored and controlled by a hired experienced agronomist.
The pilot project will be applied to greenhouses which planted tomatoes, the most spread greenhouse crop.