Journal Search Engine
Search Advanced Search Adode Reader(link)
Download PDF Export Citaion korean bibliography PMC previewer
ISSN : 1225-8504(Print)
ISSN : 2287-8165(Online)
Journal of the Korean Society of International Agricultue Vol.31 No.2 pp.138-149

Comparative Study of Pollination in Uzbekistan, Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam and the USA: Lessons for Uzbekistan Agriculture

Mamurjon Rahimov*, Jinwon Ahn**†
*Westminster International University in Tashkent, 12 Istiqbol 100047, Uzbekistan
**Handong Global University, Gyongbuk 37554, Korea
Corresponding author (Phone) +82-54-260-1012 (E-mail)
May 1, 2019 June 17, 2019 June 18, 2019


We focus on various countries’ approaches to pollination in order to boost agricultural output. We looked at the state of both natural and artificial pollination, and their correlation. We discovered that, for the covered countries, there is a certain path most of these countries are following as the ratio of natural and artificial pollination changes over time due to numerous factors such as deforestation, climate change, and heavy use of pesticides. Based on the analysis and best practices of several countries, we recommend to take necessary steps in order to ensure further development of agriculture in Uzbekistan by introducing modern methods of pollination.

우즈벡, 한국, 캄보디아, 베트남과 미국의 수분 비교연구: 우즈벡 농업을 위한 교훈

Mamurjon Rahimov*, 안 진원**†
*우즈벡 웨스트민스터대학교



    Uzbekistan is heavily dependent on agriculture for both domestic consumption and export (18.5% of GDP) according to Central Intelligence Agency (2019). Approximately half of the population of Uzbekistan live in rural areas and rely primarily on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods. Overall, there are more than 70 thousand farms in the country, with an area of 5.9 million hectares (FAO, 2014).

    It is believed that during the Soviet Union years Uzbekistan supplied lion’s share of all the produce in the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan lost most of its market share in the region largely due to competition from countries with more advanced agricultural practices (Poland, Turkey, Iran, China, and others), lack of modern agricultural marketing and management skills, and inefficient use of its existing resources.

    Particularly, speaking about advanced agricultural practices, we focused on pollination of crops in Uzbekistan as a potential way to significantly increase its agricultural output. The reason we chose this area of agriculture economics is that pollination greatly increases output of most crop types and contributes to about one-third of global crop production (Klatt, 2013). Taking into account that sown area under main agricultural crops has remained almost unchanged in the period of 2000-2016 (Key indicators, 2017), introducing modern artificial pollination methods on a mass scale into agriculture sector of Uzbekistan may well be a potential sustainable source of growth.

    Pollination is an essential process for fertilization of flowers of plants and development of seeds and fruits, which happens when pollen grains from the anthers of one flower is transferred to the stigma of the same or different flower by natural or artificial ways. Dependence of most fruit crops on pollination makes it an essential factor for achieving maximum output in agriculture (Cuevos & Pinillos, 2008). Honey bees are especially important pollinators, because they can be brought in a short time to pollinate crops which are entering blooming season (Skinner, J.). Our study of pollination practices of the selected countries has shown that it is easier said than done.

    Pollination is an economically important aspect of agriculture. Most crops depend on or significantly benefit from pollination to bear fruit or seed, including alfalfa, apples, blackberries, blueberries, cabbages, carrots, cotton, cucumbers, melons, onions, peaches, plums, pumpkins, soybeans, squash, sunflowers, strawberries, watermelons and so on (Skinner, J.).

    Interestingly, we discovered that the topic of bee pollination of crops is well-known among both scholars and farmers in Uzbekistan, but no one is doing any significant work to develop this business systematically. One explanation for this could be the fact that during the Soviet Union there was no systematic approach to pollinating crops. For example, in order to increase cotton output of Uzbekistan desert areas were irrigated using water from two rivers, Amudarya and Sirdarya, which flow toward land-locked Aral Sea – without thinking of long-term repercussions of this. Of course, pumping water to desert areas does not require much science. On the other hand, bee pollination requires deep understanding of crop and insect biology. Agricultural sector of Uzbekistan, just like many other sectors of economy of the country, are still running on the inertia of the former USSR and paradigm change has yet to happen to understand that we live in a world of limited resources.

    According to Ibrokhim Abdurakhmanov, Minister of Innovation of Uzbekistan (2018), there is yet much to do in this direction in Uzbekistan. First of all, there are simply not enough bees in Uzbekistan to provide timely pollination of crops. Secondly, fields and gardens of Uzbekistan are heavily sprayed with various chemicals including herbicides and pesticides during spring time and makes it almost impossible to pollinate them with bees. Thirdly, even if some bees survive chemicals on the fields and bring back honey to their colony, such honey would be poisonous to people who consume that honey. On the bright side, there is a possibility of genetically modifying bees so that they would become more resistant to temperature fluctuations, chemicals, and other negative factors. However, then these bees may cause food poisoning on a mass scale. Therefore, a meticulous approach is needed to implement better pollination practices in Uzbekistan.

    There is immense amount of literature on the topic of pollination and commercial pollination in particular. In order to get the big picture of the subject matter, we first immersed ourselves in the history and basics of pollination science. In any research, it would be best by starting learning the basics and history of the subject matter being studied. It turns out humans noticed the importance of proper and full pollination thousands of years ago. In their journal article dedicated to artificial pollination methods, Cuevos & Pinillos (2008) provided photographs of ancient Assyrian relief carving representing date palm pollination by hand (B.C. 870). It should be noted that in modern day greenhouses dotting Uzbekistan’s landscape around the cities and along major highways, farmers have been using “pollination wands” in order to pollinate the produce they grow – since there are few if any insects freely roaming around in the greenhouses and winds do not penetrate the glass and plastic covering the structures. Bees imported from such countries as Israel and Russia are being used to pollinate larger greenhouses.

    Numerous comparative studies were conducted to calculate and show the economic benefits of pollination carried out by various insects (Zaitoun et. al., 2006). Greenhouses present an opportunity to experiment with pollination vectors (i.e. various insects) and methods in a highly controlled environment. In economic terms, “ceteris paribus”, i.e. the famous “everything else held constant” condition, is more realistic in such environments.

    Several studies from around the world show that bee pollination, European honeybees being the best among all the insects in effectiveness, greatly improves effectiveness of farming (Bjorn, 2013). The main reason for this is that European honeybees are domesticated and they have been thoroughly studied. Apiculture is the science that studies the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in manmade hives, by humans.

    Some scholars have tried to closely study economic impact of commercial pollination. They even came up with a term “Bee-economics” (Sumner, Daniel & Boriss, Hayley, 2006). Due to shortages of honeybees for pollination, fees American farmers pay to beekeepers have been constantly increasing. In contrast, some beekeepers in Uzbekistan pay some fee to farmers for them to be allowed to place their boxes with honeybees near the gardens! World wide honeybees have been dying in large numbers due to climate and environmental changes, extensive pesticide use and many other factors.

    Since 1986 the Honey Bee Laboratory at Oregon State University has conducted an annual survey of pollination economics in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Interestingly, this is the longest running examination of pollination economics for any region in the U.S. It is noted that rising prices for commercial pollination have been largely influenced by California almond farmers who are willing to pay premium prices (Burgett, 2011). In 2016 pollination of almond orchards in California required about 75% of the USA’s honeybee colonies to be moved to the state by specialized trailer trucks (Goodrich, 2016). Interesting cost and benefit analysis was shown in the paper, comparing the hypothetical PNW rental income (50 million $) to the farm-gate value of the crops pollinated in the PNW (2.75 billion $) shows that the money spent by growers to ensure adequate pollination is about 1.8% of the total crop value. This is a great illustration of what an impressive value pollination rental is to the commercial agricultural industry of the PNW.

    Other researchers including John Losey have tried to estimate economic benefits of pollination services using various formulas and improving them (Losey, 2006). Even though the economic estimation methods are improving, it is shown that the services insects provide are invaluable. For example, the authors cite that that 90% of the insect pollinators of watermelon are honey bees. While this is probably true in most farms, they say, some organic growers can rely on native bees for 100% of their melon pollination.


    The research method was deductive: by comparing and contrasting these five countries, the researchers attempted to identify certain correlations, causalities, differences and similarities.

    Since the research is interdisciplinary, we had educated ourselves in various related fields by reading extensively and talking to various experts. Economic aspect has been a unifying force of all related fields, because, at the end, agriculture exists to attain economic benefits – food security, exporting, and etc. That’s why we could keep track of various factors and how they interplay in the marketplace. For example, population growth turned out to be a dominant factor behind major initiatives around agriculture and food security. Due to having largest population, China has been paying a lot of attention to agriculture and pollination in particular. Therefore, they not only provide themselves with pollen for artificial pollination, but also export pollen of various crops worldwide.

    We combined several well-established and also some relatively new methods in order to form a “big picture” view of what is going on in the chosen countries in the field of pollination: state of natural pollination and artificial pollination and what the government and other stakeholders are doing to improve the situation in their own countries.

    We used a series of online in-depth interviews using the Telegram Messenger. The largest beekeeping company of Uzbekistan was on the go during spring – pollinating fields of Kazakhstan and Southern Russia. So, we asked questions about commercial pollination, beekeeping and suggestions for improving conditions for commercial pollination in Uzbekistan. We did not intend to cover Kazakhstan and Russia in our research, but thanks to the insider information from Uzbek beekeepers pollinating crops in those countries during the online interview period, we were able to obtain some information about their pollination practices as well, which further enhanced our confidence that we are researching the right issues.

    Besides online interviews with beekeepers of Uzbekistan who regularly move their honeybee colonies to neighboring countries in order to earn money by pollinating crops, we had roundtable discussions with dozens of farmers and beekeepers from all over Uzbekistan, spent hours talking with Uzbek scholars in agriculture field. That way we formed a big picture of the situation around pollination problems and perspectives.

    We attended several conferences in order to listen, ask questions and interview some experts. First Conference of Female Farmers called “Innovations of Female Farmers – as a Basis for Growth and Competitiveness” which took place Wyndham Hotel in Tashkent on February 28th and International Conference on Agricultural Transformation, Food Security and Nutrition in Central Asia Featuring IFPRI’s 2018 Global Food Policy Report which took place at Westminster International University in Tashkent on June 1st provided a lot of insights on the state of pollination in Uzbekistan and were extremely useful during the exploratory stage of the research.

    We also became members of various farmers’ groups in popular social networking sites and messengers such as Facebook and Telegram. This was a form of ethnographic research, where we observed what Uzbekistan farmers talked about and were most concerned about. It was rather surprising to read that many Uzbek farmers were wondering why there were so few bees around the gardens and fields compared to previous years.

    Site visits allowed us to observe what kind of work is being done in this field, get to know equipment and methods used and to get samples of some technical and promotional literature.

    Our most important method was face-to-face in-depth interviews with industry experts and scholars. We sent a list of questions in advance so that the interviewees could prepare for the interviews. Sometimes they sent back preliminary answers to the questions prior to the interview date, which allowed us refine questions, prepare more precise questions or replace some questions with better ones.


    USA is the ultimate leader of commercial pollination.

    Commercial pollination is highly developed in the USA, which can be seen in the National Honey Report published by USDA (2018), where state by state reports are provided regarding honey production and pollination. For example, on page 2 of this report, while reporting on Arizona, it’s mentioned that “many Arizona bee colonies remained out of state during the first part of the month for the purposes of pollinating fruit and nut trees elsewhere, especially California.” This is just one example of American beekeepers being highly mobile during pollination season in order to earn money by providing pollination services. Most large honeybee keepers make more money from commercial pollination contracts rather than honey that they sell according to a special documentary video made by Fortune (2013, 00.00.20). In other words, in the USA honeybees have become an important part of agricultural labor force. American government, academia and business work handin- hand to ensure proper pollination of crops.

    Since the territory of the USA is stretched from North to South for thousands of kilometers, spring comes to southern states earlier than in the north. The State of California, the leading state in agriculture, does not have enough of their own bees to pollinate crops during blossom season. Honeybee keepers from all over the USA haul their honeybees to California for commercial pollination. Project Apis video describes how well-coordinated the migration is (2012). Reported by Sacramento Bee, almost 3/4th of all honeybees of the USA are moved to the State of California every spring, making it the largest managed honeybee migration in the world (2015, 00.00.34).

    It must be noted that bringing large numbers of honeybees from other states for pollination started more than a century ago in the USA. At that time, the USA did not have highway networks, but there was railway network. Some entrepreneurial honeybee keepers decided that if they could bring their honeybees to the south during spring using railways, they could produce more honey. Nowadays, most of the honeybees are hauled around the USA by semi-trucks using the extensive network of highways (Project Apis, 2012).

    In the course of this research, we learned about commercial pollination practice in the USA through secondary sources – journal articles, reports, documentaries and drone-flyover videos of farms in the USA. Inter-industry cooperation between honeybee keepers and farmers in the USA is impressive. Pollination contracts have become so common, that scholars now research factors, such as risk and honeybee colony strength, that affect fees and terms indicated in such contracts (Goodrich, 2016).

    Uzbekistan – aware, but does not care.

    In contrast, as it was mentioned earlier, Uzbekistan’s largest beekeepers have been pollinating neighboring countries’ fields by traveling thousands of kilometers with specialized trucks for hauling bee-hives. Neighboring countries of Kazakhstan and Russia have come to realize great benefit of bees in increasing output of crops through pollinating them. From a series of online interviews with Mr. Timofeyev (2018), we have learned that certain mechanisms have been implemented in those countries – such as approximately $10 per bee-hive for pollination services and local chief agronomist personally calling each honeybee keeper in the area - in order to notify about a planned pesticide use and safe distance to wait out the dangers poised by the chemicals. Furthermore, veterinary services of both Kazakhstan and Russia, do all the necessary inspections at the border checkpoints, check health of honeybee colonies and monitor their health throughout their stay in the country. We did not elaborate further on the pollination practices used in Kazakhstan and Russia because it was outside of the scope of our research. Nevertheless, what we learned from honeybee keepers from Uzbekistan providing pollination services in those countries at the time of our online interview suggests that those countries already appreciate the invaluable contribution of honeybees to boost agricultural output of various crops and do everything possible to bring in as many bee colonies as possible from all neighboring republics.

    Meanwhile, back in Uzbekistan farmers and beekeepers do not work together, according to Ms. Svetlana Sobirova, a leading female farmer from Gurlan area of Khorezm (2018). She happens to be working in both farming and beekeeping operations. Besides owning many orchards and fields, she has beekeeping as a complimentary business. It all sounds logical, because both businesses can help each other. She complained that last year, she lost more than 200 bee-hives due to pesticide use in neighboring farms. The neighboring farmers either did not know about beehives placed in the adjacent orchards or failed to notify her on time. As a result, hundreds beehives were decimated. She moved the remaining bee-hives deep into desert area where bees can gather nectar from wild plants. This shows that even having gardening and beekeeping in under one ownership does not really help, and therefore third party’s involvement is necessary to regulate clearly failed relations between beekeepers and farmers. “Invisible hand” of free markets is a great thing, but government’s “visible hand” of regulating commercial pollination business, at least at the beginning stage, seems to be necessary. Farmers do understand importance of timely pollination, but so far they can do nothing about leveraging bees to boost agricultural output.

    According to Timofeyev (2018), what attracts him and other beekeepers to Kazakhstan and Russia is that the scale of farming there is very large – meaning large areas of land are dedicated to growing one type of crop – for example, sunflowers or alfalfa. Hence, blossoming of crops happens at approximately the same time and provides lots of space for bees to forage. In Uzbekistan, on the other hand, fields are allocated for diverse types of crops. Those crops blossom at different times and require bee-keepers to move frequently and the scale of farming of one type of crop can’t match what can be seen in Russia and Kazakhstan. Hence, clustering farmers planting the same kind of crops would be a logical way to attract local and neighboring beekeepers to our fields.

    Korea – trying to get the most out of limited resources

    In South Korea, government starting supporting and subsidizing local farmers due to lack of bees in Korea (Jo, 2018). Population of wild bees and domesticated bees have sharply decreased there over the past years due to sharp changes in climate. As a response, farmers pollinate their farms (mostly small farms) manually using special pollen spraying machines.

    Government agricultural extension centers, such as the one where Mr. Jo works, not only buy pollen from China and the USA, but also subsidize equipment rental, train the farmers in effective pollination techniques, and carry out research and development for developing more effective ways of pollination. Korean farmers have embraced intensive pollination and willingly work with their government to have high output from every acre of land they have.

    Vietnam – true agricultural mobilization to feed the growing population

    In Vietnam, we met with a number of researchers, including the director of the Bee Research Institute at the National Institute of Animal Sciences Professor Hanh (2018), and were able to learn more about the state of pollination in the country. Despite the fact that natural pollination remains high in Vietnam thanks to jungles and rivers for insects to thrive, they have started working on developing effective methods of artificial pollination. Even though beekeepers pay about $50 per month to farmers when they place their bee-hives to the farmer’s land, it’s just a payment for accommodations (utilities, cooking, and etc.) that farmers provide to bee-keepers. Government has been trying to encourage closer cooperation between farmers and bee-keepers by conducting training sessions, sending out educational posters and leaflets and spending more money to develop more effective pollination methods.

    According to Professor Hanh (2018), it’s not a perfect system yet, because farmers and bee-keepers are still not pollination experts and do not always know timing or methodology of effective pollination. So, there is a lot of work to be done in this direction, but we think that they are in the right direction by choosing to explore artificial pollination long before exhausting free services of wild insects (natural pollination). In other words, Vietnam has been acting very proactive in this direction.

    Cambodia – a country with a relatively small population, still enjoying natural pollination

    In Cambodia, we have talked with experts in the Royal University of Agriculture and Department of Forests and Community Forestry, and learned that all the farms, with the exception of nethouses and greenhouses, are 100% pollinated by wild insects. Before visiting the country, we sent them our questionnaire. They did not send us preliminary answers to the questions. When we actually arrived and met with the Rector of the Royal University of Agriculture Ngo Bunthan (2018), he said he knew very little about the topic of pollination and that he had forwarded the questions to the Dean of Faculty of Agronomy.

    It was our greatest surprise to hear from the Dean of Faculty of Agronomy Dr. Cheang Hong (2018) that he had no answers to our questions because the country was totally dependent on natural pollination. No research was being done to introduce artificial pollination to the agriculture sector of Cambodia, even though they are located right next to Vietnam where artificial pollination is becoming an important part of agriculture. It felt like Cambodia was following “do nothing” strategy when it comes to artificial pollination. This was further confirmed by the officials of Department of Forests and Community Forestry: the country’s farmers still enjoy free pollination by wild insects, and therefore they do not worry about artificial pollination methods. Bee-keeping is encouraged just to provide economic benefit to rural areas. And those bees are wild bees, not domesticated ones (Maredi, 2018). The inaction of Cambodia toward large scale artificial pollination efforts was also very telling. We realized that all countries that we studied at some point were like Cambodia: relatively small population size and abundance of natural pollination. For the purpose of this research, we may thus consider Cambodia case as a starting point.


    Dealing with externalities

    From an economic point of view, among the agricultural problems, pollination of crops in particular can be seen as dealing with externalities. In Uzbekistan’s case, a farmer using pesticides creates negative externalities for bee keepers since bees die after being exposed to the pesticides. The solution to negative externalities is to be achieved by internalizing them. Farmer using pesticide include only the cost of the pesticide and the benefits to their crops in cost calculations but not the cost to others who lose their health and their bees in the process. As a result, the outcome is not socially optimal (cost to pesticide user and to bee keepers exceed the benefits to the pesticide user).

    But bee keepers can create positive externalities for farmers by increasing crop output, and farmers also can create positive externalities for bee keepers by planting blossoming trees and crops. If there is a socially acceptable recognition and mutual agreement for these beneficial positive externalities, and transaction costs including legal issues are not high enough, both parties can increase their respective welfares, not hurting each other, according to Ronald Coase’s pioneering research (1960). If it is not available, those who are harmed could sue the farmer using the pesticide with a legal framework which assigns and protects property rights. Then the farmer applying the pesticide would have to take the compensation he has to pay into account and act accordingly. Government can intervene in the result. Besides threat of court, an excise tax on pesticides at the level of harm may solve the problem as well. This may be preferable if costs of judges, lawyers, court clerks, and so on and of assigning damage to individuals harmed are high. Of course through regulations certain types of pesticides can be officially banned (like in Europe).

    That’s why, while discussing the problem of pollination in some countries, we should look at a bigger picture: whether property rights are respected and protected, whether courts are objective and unbiased, whether taxation system takes into account potential externalities, and whether laws are in place to regulate various stakeholders. That may be another explanation of why some countries are lagging so much behind others in taking advantage of pollination services of insects as a way to increase economic well-being.

    Among the countries that we studied, each country is dealing with externalities differently. In the USA, the internalization process is being carried out mainly by the market. For example, American farmers and bee keepers voluntarily reaching an agreement among themselves and determining payments. In South Korea, since most farms are relatively small, government helps farmers in getting pollen and equipment for pollination. In that way Korean government is speeding up adoption of new agricultural technologies and covering some portion of associated costs. In Vietnam, the government is actively supporting implementation of foreign methods of pollinating crops. Also, local people’s mentality is being taken into account while implementing the best practices from foreign countries. They realize that there is no universal solution to pollination problem. Every country has its own peculiarities. Since Vietnam is an Asian country from the former socialist block, its approaches to artificial pollination can be very useful to study further and benchmark from.

    Modality between levels of natural and artificial pollination

    In the process of the research, combining several research methods, we have collected country-specific primary information for Uzbekistan, South Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia. The USA’s pollination history and present activities were studied by analyzing secondary information.

    The USA has served us as the etalon of proper pollination implementation – their pollination business has turned into an industry with clear rules and practices. Commercial pollination industry has a long and interesting history. The industry takes into account interests of all stakeholders and regulates their interaction through market mechanisms.

    One similarity among all the studied countries: they are all facing, to some extent, the effects of climate change due to global warming, pollution, and other factors. The difference is that the impact of those negative factors vary from country to country.

    Our greatest challenge was to organize the collected information in a meaningful way and to interpret them into useful insights. The frameworks that we considered for analyzing our findings, such as Value Chain Analysis and Stakeholder Analysis, provided only partial explanation of the collected information. Hence, we developed a new framework, which allowed us to place all five countries relative to each other in regards to where they stand in terms of ratio of natural and artificial pollination.

    It is possible to categorize the countries according to availability of natural pollination of crops (by wild animals, insects, wind). Also, it is possible to categorize them according to how much effort they are making to introduce various ways of artificial pollination (by hand, by using machines, and by using various types of bees). Furthermore, the analysis becomes more insightful when you use the two types of pollination as axes of a matrix. We call it Comparative State of Pollination in Selected Countries (Figure 1).

    First of all, we would like to explain the origin of the matrix is at the intercept of Low Artificial Pollination and High Natural Pollination. If we look back into history of the world, and into history of agriculture in particular, natural pollination used to be higher than now. Hence, farmers around the world did not have to worry about coming up with various ways of artificially pollinating their crops – even though artificial pollination was known to mankind for more than 2000 years and was practiced on a small scale. That is why the origin of the Matrix was decided to be at Low/High, i.e. Low Artificial Pollination and High Natural Pollination.

    Cambodia – has not reached the natural pollination threshold yet

    Cambodia is in the bottom left of this matrix, i.e. Low Artificial Pollination and High Natural Pollination Quadrant, meaning they enjoy almost 100% pollination by wilds insects, animals and winds. Its vast jungles, rivers and lakes provide ample space, food and nesting ground for wild insects and animals to thrive. Moreover, among the analyzed countries, it has the lowest population size (about 15 million people). That means there is less pressure to get more out of the existing agricultural resources. Some farmers use hand-pollination of their nethouses, i.e. a greenhouse with walls and roof made of nets to keep away insects. Nethouses keep insects out and allow farmers use very little or no pesticides. That is a good way to save money and a method farmers came up with to grow more natural, organic food. However, such greenhouses represent a small percentage of farming of Cambodia.

    Vietnam – realizing the impact of pollination for agriculture

    Thanks to many rivers, lakes and vast jungles, Vietnam also enjoys high level of natural pollination by a large variety of insects. But, because it has the largest population in the region, the situation is different when it comes to artificial pollination. The rapidly growing population of Vietnam exerts (about 93 million people) huge pressure to get more out of the existing agricultural resources. Therefore, Vietnam is investing into pollination research and paying more attention to the problem of pollination. It has established a dedicated Bee Research Center in order to improve pollination level of its crops and promote artificial pollination with bees. This is because, in order to feed its huge population, it has to find ways to increase agricultural output.

    Because of shortage of land for farming, Vietnamese stopped burying their dead and cremate them instead. That example itself shows how precious every acre is for Vietnamese farming. Vietnam is in the lower part of High Artificial Pollination and High Natural Pollination Quadrant, but moving toward higher artificial pollination because of its booming population. There is a lot of possibilities for growth according to Professor Hanh Duc Pham (2018), Director of the Bee Research Center at the National Institute of Animal Sciences of Vietnam. For example, even though many farmers rent or buy bees to pollinate their greenhouses and nethouses, most of them do not know well how to take care of bees and proper timing of bee pollination. Hence, government research centers and private companies in bee pollination can further increase output of farms in the country by improving effectiveness and efficiency of bee pollination and other methods of artificial pollination.

    South Korea – serious about small farmers

    South Korea can be seen as a country transitioning away from Low Artificial Pollination and High Natural Pollination Quadrant to High Artificial Pollination and Low Natural Pollination Quadrant. During the Korean war (1950- 1953), most of the forests in South Korea were either burned down in bombings and battles or the trees were cut down by people as fuels for heating and cooking purposes. After the war, South Korea undertook a vast program to replant trees to restore ecology. The efforts paid off and South Korea today is green with most of its hills and valleys covered with thick forests, most of which are manmade forests. The forests provide ample space, food and nesting ground for wild insects and animals to thrive.

    South Korea has a large population (more than 51 million) and very little land for agriculture, because about 75% of its territory consists of hills and mountains. Therefore, according to Mr. Kwang-Hyun Jo of Agricultural Technology Extension Center of Yeongcheon City (2018), farmers of South Korea are pressured to resort to various artificial pollination methods in order to get more output from every acre of land they have. Since farms are usually small, farmers there rely mostly on manual and mechanical methods of pollination. Only certain areas still rely on bee pollination. Government has established Agricultural Technology Centers, which assist farmers in pollinating their crops effectively. Subsidies are available for purchasing pollen (which is mostly imported from China and the USA) and pollination equipment by the farmers. A lot of money is spent for educating farmers modern ways of mechanical pollination. R&D in pollination sphere is mainly directed to design machines, which can pollinate larger areas faster. This is because labor cost has been increasing in South Korea. General overview on pollinations of diverse insects in Korea is succinctly done by Yoon et. al.(2017), you may refer to it for more information.

    USA – raising the bar

    Over the past decade, the USA has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of bee colonies – both wild and domesticated – due to climatic changes, pollution, heavy use of chemicals in agriculture and other factors. Therefore, the USA is in High Artificial Pollination and Low Natural Pollination Quadrant, where they have to rely more on artificial pollination in agriculture. One of the largest cash crops is almond. It’s a very high-value-added product. Thanks to skillful management of artificial pollination, the USA has captured more than 90% of world almond market. And the main role in this fascinating achievement is played by domesticated honeybees. California, being the largest agricultural state of the USA, attracts about two-thirds of all honeybee colonies in the USA every spring. The honeybee colonies are hauled by large trailers trucks from all over the USA. This is, by far, the largest managed honeybee migration in the world.

    It’s logical to assume that as natural pollination decreases in a country, the country should resort to more artificial pollination in order to compensate for the potential economic loss due to low level of pollination of crops. In this regard, Vietnam, South Korea and the United States are following the right path: they are relying less on natural pollination and resorting to various ways of pollinating their crops. In the Matrix, by connecting the countries starting from Cambodia (lower end, origin) all the way to the United States (leader in artificial pollination), we can see the path which we call the Ideal Path of Pollination (Figure 2).

    Uzbekistan in the least favorable quadrant with a rapidly growing population

    Now, if we turn to Uzbekistan, during Soviet period, it was turned into the main cotton base for the textile industry of the USSR. In order to increase agricultural land for cotton, most of the woods were cut down, thereby destroying ecology and decimating mostly wild insects and animals. Biodiversity loss, in addition to deforestation, wetland and pasture erosion, is listed as among great environmental problems of Uzbekistan in FAO’s report (2014). Furthermore, water shortages caused by intensive irrigation of cotton fields destroyed much of the remaining habitat for wild insects and animals. As a result, natural pollination of orchards and fields is very low.

    Uzbekistan’s agriculture is very ineffective and most farmers earn subsistence wages, and these problems can be traced back to collapse of natural pollination system, which existed for centuries. Unfortunately, Uzbekistan is not doing anything to solve the problem of poor pollination level. In one comparison of almond orchard output, for example, Uzbekistan farmers get twice less almond per acre of land compared to California farmers. Uzbek farmers and honeybee keepers do not cooperate with each other. In fact, they dislike each other: most farmers think of honeybees as nuisance. In contrast, California almond farmers are ready to pay up to $200 per colony (box) to honeybee keepers every spring in order to get maximum output per acre of land. Large commercial honeybee keep- ers in the USA make more money out of commercial pollination than they make from honey they sell. So, for them honey is like a by-product. It should be added that robot honeybees have been patented in the USA recently, but they are still at the experimental stage.

    Honeybee keepers of Uzbekistan sell bees to other countries and every spring move their colonies to neighboring Kazakhstan and Russia to earn money by pollinating their crops (around $10 per box) and produce honey for sale (Timofeyev, 2018). Unfortunately, in a recent international conference on food security and agriculture which took place at Westminster International University in Tashkent (2018), there was no word and no topic about the crisis in pollination and bees.

    In this matrix, sadly, Uzbekistan is located in the worst quadrant and is not doing anything to move out of it. Recently issued new presidential decrees mainly guarantee free use of deserts and mountains by beekeepers. Interindustry cooperation between beekeepers and farmers is not even implied. There is no inter-industry cooperation between beekeepers and farmers. Most of the honey produced in Uzbekistan is derived from wildflowers in deserts and mountains, because fields and gardens of Uzbekistan are laced with chemicals, which are definitely hazardous to honeybees. In agriculture, bees are mostly used in pollinating produce in greenhouses, because manual pollination is too expensive and time-consuming.

    Uzbekistan – which path to choose

    We must emphasize that compared to the other countries, which we researched, Uzbekistan is located in the most disadvantageous quadrant. Uzbekistan has worsening natural pollination level (low) and artificial pollination is not implemented on a large scale (low). Now, looking at the matrix, let us see where Uzbekistan should go from here. It can’t go to quadrants with high natural pollination, because this would require to replant its territory with trees and other plants. Korea is much smaller, so they could replant their territory. To make things worse, Uzbekistan does not have enough water for the new forests to form – much of water has been used for cotton fields and an entire Aral Sea almost dried up.

    In short, Uzbekistan cannot restore high level of natural pollination. Unlike Korea, Uzbekistan can’t rely mainly on manual and mechanical ways of pollination, because the area to be pollinated is much bigger than that of Korea. The only possible and correct way in this situation is to go to High Artificial Pollination and Low Natural Pollination Quadrant – by devising a detailed program to stimulate the development of commercial pollination. The main element in this program is bees. Only bees can pollinate vast areas fast.

    We would like to emphasize that the main purpose of this paper is not to prove that honeybees are important, but to recommend the best way to implement commercial pollination of crops of Uzbekistan in order to make agriculture more profitable and lift millions of farmers out of poor economic condition. For this purpose, our Matrix not only shows current state of pollination of selected countries, but also where they should be heading. In case of Uzbekistan, the Matrix indicates that the country is in the most disadvantageous quadrant, a quadrant where no country wants to be. Then the Matrix shows which quadrant Uzbekistan should target. Our recommendations are focused on ways to effectively move Uzbekistan to the right quadrant.


    In the present comparative study, we found significant differences among the selected countries in the levels of artificial pollination and natural pollination, which largely depend on the population level, ecological condition and many other factors. It all started making sense, once we started comparing them in the state of natural and artificial pollination. Among the countries studied, the state of pollination turned out to be in the poorest condition in Uzbekistan: poor artificial pollination and poor natural pollination. Our proprietary matrix, which we developed based on the comparative research, also underlines alarming condition of pollination in Uzbekistan. The matrix further suggests which way Uzbekistan should take in order to ensure sustainability and increase effectiveness of agriculture – since Uzbekistan already entered the “low natural pollination” stage, it is appropriate now to seek ways to develop various methods of artificial pollination by adopting best practices from around the world.

    Korean experience would be highly beneficial for helping small farm owners in Uzbekistan get more out of every acre of land. Uzbekistan’s government could also establish agricultural outreach centers across the country to educate farmers on mechanical pollination methods and subsidize purchase of pollen from other countries and rental of specialized equipment for mechanical pollination of crops.

    As for large scale farming, Vietnam’s approach seems to be the most appropriate, where government plays the central role in fostering closer relations between beekeepers and farmers, and also allocates funds for research and development of artificial pollination and for promotion of more effective artificial pollination methods among the main stakeholders. Since both Uzbekistan and Vietnam were members of the former Socialist Block, it would be possible to assume that mentality of farmers and beekeep ers are alike in many ways. For example, both countries have been moving away from the central planning economy toward the free market economy. However, market mechanisms in these countries have yet to be developed in order to take lead in making major changes in farming methods – in pollination, in particular.

    In contrast, in the USA it was beekeepers’ initiative to move bees by rail to Southern territories in spring in order to start making honey early in late 19th and 20th century. Increased pollination rates were just a byproduct of the self-interest and wisdom of beekeepers. It is hard to make beekeepers and farmers cooperate closely without some external mechanism in the form of government policies and institutions. The scientific and promotional work being done by the Bee Research Center at the National Institute of Animal Science of Vietnam under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development can be benchmarked by Uzbekistan. Even though some crops may provide twice or even more output if properly pollinated, most farmers in Uzbekistan are not willing to pay in advance any fees to beekeepers for commercial pollination services. Therefore, in this case of an apparent market failure, it would be government’s responsibility to establish and support close cooperation between beekeepers and farmers in the beginning stage – through instituting some incentives in the form of trainings, subsidies and provision of know-how in the field of artificial pollination.

    Agricultural diversification could support commercial pollination and vice versa

    Since Uzbekistan has been gradually moving away from cotton monoculture, it is advised to seek ways to introduce high value-added crops such as almonds in order to make commercial pollination more viable and sustainable. In other words, farmers will be more willing to pay higher fees for commercial pollination services provided by beekeepers, if they can sell their output for a higher price in the world market. That would not only motivate local beekeepers to stay during spring to pollinate local gardens, but also would attract beekeepers from neighboring republics to move their bees to Uzbekistan in order to earn money and produce honey. Once the culture of close cooperation between farmers and beekeepers becomes vibrant, government can minimize its presence or even exit out of this playground.

    Since Uzbekistan cannot expand its agricultural land due to high population growth, desertification, shortage of water for irrigation, the most appropriate way would be to seek ways to obtain more output from every acre of agricultural land that is available now. Currently a lot of attention is being paid to the development of genetically modified crops such as cotton, since it is still a major cash crop for Uzbekistan.

    One of the most effective ways to ensure higher output from every acre of land is to start artificial pollination programs on a mass scale. The true effect of artificial pollination can be really seen, if it is done on a mass scale.

    Starting with the cash crops first

    Under the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan had “cotton monoculture”, i.e. most land and other agricultural resources were dedicated to growing cotton. After gaining independence, Uzbekistan allocated large share of land and other agricultural resources to growing wheat in order to have food security. Hence, currently Uzbekistan’s agriculture can be described as “cotton and wheat duoculture”, i.e. most land and other agricultural resources were dedicated to growing cotton and wheat and the remaining land is allocated to growing all other types of crops (Akramov, 2018). This is further confirmed by statistics provided in the document of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on Uzbekistan (2014), which states that currently cotton and wheat are the two main crops that are grown at present on 42.2% and 41% of irrigated land respectively.

    Interestingly, wheat does not require insect pollination (PennState), because it is wind-pollinated. That leaves cotton to concentrate future large-scale pollination efforts on. Studies from around the world show significant benefit of bee pollination on cotton output. Proper bee pollination of cotton fields may increase cotton production by more than 12% - by boosting average boll weight, fibre weight and seed number (Viviane, 2014).

    Since Uzbekistan is moving towards cluster methods of agricultural business where, for example, cotton is grown, processed and turned into finished consumer goods in certain geographical location, it would be best to combine modern artificial pollination methods into the programs. In order to implement this correctly, we advise to establish close ties with developed and developing countries with more advanced level of managing artificial pollination efforts such as Vietnam, South Korea, and the USA, to name a few. The reason is pollination business requires good knowledge of every crop’s pollination requirements – amount of pollen needed, timing and other factors. Without a strong scientific base, it would be difficult to implement this in Uzbekistan.

    Some proactive measures are needed

    Due to the size of territory of Uzbekistan, food shortages are not felt so much yet, but as the population doubles or triples in next decades, emergency measures will have to be undertaken to be able to feed the larger population. It is in fact a blessing of Uzbekistan that it has relatively small population and large territory compared to most Asian countries. On the other hand, it is the most populous Central Asian nation. Due to low productivity of agricultural crops, millions of Uzbeks are leaving the country every year in search of better economic prospects. Therefore, starting nationwide pollination programs would be a proactive move on the part of Uzbek government and would definitely give positive results in the nearest future. Uzbekistan farmers and beekeepers should understand a big positive externality among themselves and finally realize that they are interdependent and interwoven: beekeepers need pollen for honey, farmers need bees in order to get more output out of every acre of land. After all, it is a winwin relationship we are talking about.


    Pollination - The process by which plant pollen is transferred from the male reproductive organs to the female reproductive organs to form seeds. In flowering plants, pollen is transferred from the anther to the stigma, often by the wind or by insects.

    Natural pollination – It is when freely roaming birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals pollinate crops.

    Artificial pollination – Planned introduction of bees, mechanical and manual pollination methods in order to increase output of crops.

    Mechanical pollination – using special pollen sprayers in order to increase output of crops.

    Manual pollination – using special pollination wands to pollinate crops (usually in greenhouses and nethouses)

    Commercial pollination – pollination of crops for money using bees, mechanical and other methods of pollination.

    Pollination policy – government’s set of regulations and measures regarding pollination activities in order to increase output of crops. It can be directed at improving both natural pollination - by improving natural habitat for wild insects, birds and small mammals, and artificial pollination – by introducing and supporting cooperation between honeybee keepers and farmers, promoting coordination between stakeholders through awareness campaigns and setting up market mechanisms and etc.

    Nethouse – a type of greenhouse that uses nets instead of walls and glass roofs in order to keep out unwanted insects. It’s widespread in countries with warm climate. It makes most pesticides unnecessary, and therefore the output of such nethouses is in high demand. It also saves money for farmers in the long run.

    Pollinators – anything that helps better pollinate crops. E.g.: birds, bats, insects, wind.

    FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Organization.

    적 요

    농업생산량 증대 위해 여러 국가의 수분에 대한 접근을 연 구했다. 이 연구에서는 자연수분과 인공수분의 상태와 그 상 관관계를 고찰했다. 검토한 나라들에서 산림훼손, 기후변화, 그 리고 살충제 과용 등으로 인해 자연수분과 인공수분의 비율이 변화하는 경로가 있음을 확인하였다. 이 논문의 분석과 여러 국가의 모범관행에 비추어 볼 때 우즈벡에 현대적 수분방법을 도입하여 농업발전을 도모하기 위한 필요한 조치들을 제안하 였다.


    We thank the Bee Research Center at the National Institute of Animal Science of Vietnam for helping us better understand the role of government in fostering better pollination. We thank Agricultural Technology Extension Center of Yeongcheon City, Agricultural Technology Center of Gyeongsan City, and Agricultural Technology Center of Cheongsong County for showing and explaining us current and perspective methods of manual and mechanical pollination of gardens in South Korea. We thank Royal University of Agriculture of Cambodia for meaningful discussions of the state of pollination in countries with high level of natural pollination. We thank the Department of Forests and Community Forestry for explaining us what is being done to improve natural pollination in Cambodia. We thank the Minister of Innovation of Uzbekistan for his insightful interview on various options to increase bee population in order to help farmers increase farm output. We thank founders of Uzbekistan company “Bochka s medom”, one of the largest honey producers in Uzbekistan, for enlightening us about the state of commercial pollination in neighboring countries of Kazakhstan and Russia and the state of relations between beekeepers and farmers in Uzbekistan, as well as potential of commercial pollination in Uzbekistan. We also thank Business Women's Association of Uzbekistan “Tadbirkor ayol” for getting us in touch with some leading female farmers and beekeepers to discuss current problems and perspectives of farming and beekeeping in Uzbekistan.



    Comparative State of Pollination in Selected Countries


    Ideal Path of Pollination



    1. Abdurakhmonov, I. Interviewed by: Rahimov, M. (March 5th, 2018).
    2. Agricultural Marketing Service, Specialty Crops Program, Market News Division (2018). National Honey Report. United States Department of Agriculture. Report XXXVIII - #3
    3. Akramov, K. 2018. Competitiveness of Central Asian Countries in Agricultural and Food Products: Revealed Comparative Advantage Analysis. Presented at International Conference on Agricultural Transformation, Food Security and Nutrition in Central Asia Featuring IFPRI’s 2018 Global Food Policy Report. Tashkent.
    4. Burgett, M. 2011. Pacific Northwest Honey Bee Pollination Economics Survey 2010. National Honey Report – Vol. XXX - #12
    5. Central Intelligence Agency.2019. World Factbook, available at
    6. Coase, Ronald Harry.1960. The Problem of Social Cost, Journal of Law and Economics, The University of Chicago Press, 3:1-44.
    7. Cuevas, J. , Pinillos, V. 2008. Horticultural Reviews, Volume 34, In: Janick, J (ed.) Artificial Pollination in Tree Crop Production, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 239-276.
    8. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2014) . Country Programming Framework for the Republic of Uzbekistan for the period of 2014-2017. The United Nations Organization.
    9. Fortune, 2013. The $3 billion industry powered by bees. [Online video] Available at: [Accessed 5 March, 2018]
    10. Goodrich, B. 2016. The Roles of Risk and Honey Bee Colony Strength in Determining Almond Pollination Contract Provisions. Presented at the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association Annual Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts.
    11. Hanh Duc Pham , Gard, W. Otis 2010. The importance of honeybees to crop pollination in Vietnam. Research presentation. Hanoi.
    12. Hanh Duc, Pham Hanh Duc Pham. Interviewed by: Rahimov, M. (July 31st, 2018).
    13. Hong, Cheang . Interviewed by: Rahimov, M. (August 2, 2018).
    14. Jo, Kwang-Hyun. Interviewed by: Rahimov, M (July 5th, 2018).
    15. Klatt, Bjorn K. et al.,2013. Bee pollination improves crop quality, shelf life and commercial value. Proceedings of the Royal Society.
    16. Losey, John and Vaughan, Mace 2006. The Economic Value of Ecological Services Provided by Insects. BioScience, 56:4
    17. Maredi, Im. Interviewed by: Rahimov, M. (August 3, 2018).
    18. Ngo, Bunthan. Interviewed by: Rahimov, M. (August 2, 2018).
    19. PennState College of Agriculture (no date)What are pollinators and why do we need them? [Online] Available from: [Accessed 12 June, 2018]
    20. Project Apis m.2012. Transporting Honeybee Colonies to California for Almond Pollination. [Online video] Available at: [Accessed 5 May, 2018]
    21. SacrametoBee. 2015. Bees and Almonds. [Online video] Available at: [Accessed 7 May, 2018]
    22. Skinner, J. (no date) Making a Pollination Contract. [Handbook PB1516 obtained from the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service], 26 May, 2018.
    23. Sobirova, Svetlana. Interviewed by: Rahimov, M. (February 28, 2018).
    24. Sumner, D. and Boriss, H. 2006. Bee-conomics and the Leap in Pollination Fees. Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.
    25. Timofeyev, V. Online interview conducted by: Rahimov, M. (May 2nd, 2018).
    26. The State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics, 2017. Statistical analysis of the key indicators of agricultural sector of Uzbekistan in 2000-2016. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 11 November, 2018]
    27. Viviane, P. et al.2014. Importance of bee pollination for cotton production in convetional and organic farms in Brasil. Journal of Pollination Ecology, 13(16): 151-160
    28. Yoon, H.J. , 2017. Survey of insect pollinators use for horticultural crops in Korea, Journal of Apiculture, 32(3): 223-235.
    29. Zaitoun, Shahera Talat et al.2006. Comparative study on the pollination of strawberry by bumble bees and honeybees under plastic house conditions in Jordan valley. Journal of Food Agriculture and Environment. Vol.4