Farming with Alternative Pollinators (FAP)

Published: 03 August 2020
Last edited: 02 October 2020
remove_red_eye 1883 Views


Farming with Alternative Pollinators (FAP) is a new low cost and economically self-sustaining approach to protect pollinators (Christmann and Aw-Hassan 2012; Christmann et al. 2017; Christmann 2019a, b). FAP increases the net income per surface substantially and thus obviates rewards. FAP compares FAP fields (75% of the area for the main crop, 25% of the field for habitat enhancement including different marketable plants to attract a higher diversity of pollinators, provide shelter against wind, nesting and water support out of local materials), with control fields (100% for the main crop) concerning insect diversity and abundance (pollinators, predators and pests) and total net income. The approach is replicable across continents and affordable also for Low Income Countries. FAP focuses on capacity building, a performance and productivity related incentive for farmers and a cross-sector policy mix. It generates many cross-cutting benefits (Christmann 2019c).


North Africa
North and Central Asia
West Asia, Middle East
Scale of implementation
Rangeland / Pasture
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Ecosystem services
Food security
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Outreach & communications
Increasing temperatures
Loss of Biodiversity
Shift of seasons
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Lack of food security
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 3: Incentives reformed
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources


Morocco | Uzbekistan (2013-2014), Algeria, Tunisia, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey (by 2022)


Pollinator diversity in Low and Middle Income Countries is hardly known, research is focused on High Income Countries to a high extent, so there is no baseline to measure decline.

Same as in Europe, pollinator research in the South is mainly conducted by biology departments of universities, but not by applied agricultural research organizations.

Unfortunately, there is a tremendous lack of research on pollinators from socio-economic and policy research, but such data would be valuable for policy dialogues.

Capacity of farmers is low. Insects are often regarded as potential pests.

Low and Middle Income Countries cannot pay rewards as e.g. the European Union, so the approach for pollinator protection must be self-sustaining.


Farmers, consumers, rural development, pollinators, all plants, animals, habitats, ecosystem services relying on pollination service.

We trained more than 200 farmers and more than 300 professional trainers. NARS in 10 countries received trainings.

How do the building blocks interact?

Researchers cannot develop planting instructions on all main crops of a region, just on the most important crops. However, if farmers realized the potential of higher income per surface and have figures for some crops, they start to experiment themselves. At that time, the Seeding-Flowering Calendars might be very effective.


Also see the graphics below:


In the most common approach for pollinator protection, wildflower strips (weeds in the language of farmers) farmers do not gain income from this part of the field (except he is paid for the seeding service), but face spread of weeds. FAP uses instead marketable habitat enhancement plants like oilseeds, spices, food crops, medicinal plants etc, so farmers have income also from the habitat enhancement zone. In general, the higher productivity and quality of the main crops is the main factor for higher income, but if the main crop is heavily attacked by pests or diseases, the habitat enhancement zone buffers against income loss, because these plants are usually not affected. Also, pest abundance is much reduced. The farmer earns significantly more per surface, for some crops and ecosystems by 30%, 50% or much more (Christmann et al. 2017; results from 3 more FAP projects in Morocco are under development). The film documentary “Gain better yields by protecting pollinators” shows fields, farmers, important pollinators and also graphs on income increase (find the link below). FAP has positive impacts on health (less pesticides in food), food security, and most of all: FAP protects biodiversity in general: pollinators are crucial for biodiversity protection in general, as their service is basic for 87% of flowering plants, and thus for fauna and habitats as well.


Laarroussi Touil  protects wild bees and flies and thus earns more

In winter 2016/17, for the first time Laarroussi Touil took part in a project that aims to increase income faba bean production by attracting often overlooked unpaid field workers to the plot: pollinators such as wild bees, flies and wasps, but also natural enemies.  The approach is called "Farming with Alternative Pollinators (FAP)" and was developed by a CIM expert in Uzbekistan 2009-2012. High pollinator diversity induces these insects to move more often from one flower to the other. This increases farmers’ yields. High diversity of wild pollinators also makes his production more climate resilient, because honeybees need good weather – and this cannot be taken for granted in the course of climate change.

The young farmer used about 75% of his field for faba bean and in 25% of the field, in the border around, he seeded canola, arugula, lupinus, chia and alfalfa. He saw that the variety of insects was much higher and the number of pests less than before. The harvest was much better, more flowers developed pods, the pods had more and bigger seeds than usual. Hanan Touil used the additional plants of the marginal strips in the kitchen and for the sheep. Laaroussi Touil was satisfied and became curious.

For some years now, the tomato leaf miner moth has been giving him a hard time - nearly all tomato growers in Morocco suffer from this larvae damaging the plant. Above all, the black excrement of the larvae in the tomatoes reduces the income per kilogram from 5 Dirham (good harvest) to 3. Chemicals can combat the larvae, but Laarroussi Touil uses a part of the harvest for his family and recognizes the risks related to chemicals: "It's hard and unhealthy work, expensive and the harvest is becoming unhealthier.” As he had noticed, that the faba bean field with the bordering plants had much lower pest abundance, he started his own project in spring 2017. He used the FAP approach for his tomato field. He sowed coriander, zucchini and sunflowers all around it to attract more pollinators and natural enemies to his field. He was very satisfied with the high quantity and quality of his tomato harvest. Meantime he started his own FAP trials with more main crops, e.g. green pepper and zucchini in 2018. He is in particular fond of coriander and sunflower as habitat enhancement crops.

Contributed by

s.christmann_35669's picture

Stefanie Chistmann ICARDA

Other contributors

Aden Aw-Hassan
ICARDA, retired
Moulay Shrif Smaili
INRA Morocco
Dr. Patrick Lhomme
Youssef Bencharki