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HOW ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE UK’S FOOD SELF-SUFFICIENCY?

This year, data suggest an optimistic prospect of a good harvest. However, Britain's ability to feed itself is in long-term decline, experts say, with self-sufficiency falling from 78% to 60% in the last 30 years.

In this context, the National Farmers Union has shown the importance to undertake stronger actions to change this alarming situation, stressing that the food supply would run out without imports.

Moreover, MPs have recently argued that Britain’s capability to feed itself is undermined: some factors such as the extreme weather caused by climate change and increasing competition for food as the world's population grows are playing a crucial role threatening Britain’s food self-sufficiency.

Additionally, some experts have analyzed this phenomenon, noting that the Ukrainian crisis has strongly affected wheat prices.

In this framework, major producers have criticized supermarkets that dominate the food market, accusing them of replacing British agricultural products with cheaper imports.

Studies describe a complex situation: increased production of apples, strawberries and asparagus are replacing imports, while celery and broccoli are rising but not enough to satisfy the growing demand.

On the other hand, the production of other important crops is decreasing: broad and runner beans, tomatoes, and pears have fallen by more than 20% in the past decade, due to foreign competitors that can supply hungry supermarkets all year round. In addition to that, farmers have highlighted that other issues are playing a central role, as the difficulty in finding people in the UK to harvest hand-picked crops like strawberries.

Furthermore, the UK's higher food standards represent crucial factors that are damaging self-sufficiency, increasing prices compared with other countries, farmers warn.

In relation to that, the government need to invest in new crops and smarter growing systems. The failure of establishing adequate policies will undermine Britain's ability to feed itself, experts say.

 

The gLAWcal Team

EPSEI project

Thursday, 07 August 2014

(Source: The Guardian)