Local demand for eggplant has increased significantly in East Africa. Eggplant is a highly nutritious vegetable that can grow in hot, dry areas where vegetables are harder to grow. Eggplant belongs to the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which includes tomatoes and potatoes.
Flowers of plants in this family have a specialised pollination system called ‘buzz pollination’, involving wild bees. Buzz pollination is when the bee holds the flower with its mouthparts and causes it to vibrate by using the motion from its wing muscles to transfer vibration energy into the flower. Only when this is done at the correct frequency is pollen forcibly released from the anthers.
Eggplant is 100% dependent on pollinators to produce fruit and solitary (non-social) species of wild bees are the exclusive pollinators of eggplant flowers. Maintain natural habitat patches around fields of eggplant to support solitary wild bee pollinators.