Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Food Security – A Strategy in Waiting

Supermarket shelves left bare after ferries delayed

"Its dependence upon the outer worlds for food and, indeed, for all necessities of life, made Trantor increasingly vulnerable." (Isaac Asimov, Foundation)

Food Security – A Strategy in Waiting

The subject of food security, along with water and energy security are rising as priorities for governments globally and particularly in locations geographically isolated or reliant on complex transport links. The Government of Jersey has started exploring the issues around food security for Jersey and perhaps unsurprisingly the majority of fresh fruit and vegetables purchased on the Island are imported.

Food security remains high on the agenda, as food production is now seen as strategically important given the rising world population and food price volatility. A draft Food Security Strategy was prepared for consideration by the Council of Ministers which sets out four main objectives:

1. Securing the availability of food
2. Securing the affordability of food
3. Securing the ability to produce food
4. Securing against supply shocks

Where is it?

Delta Innovation have this in their website:

We worked with the States of Jersey to develop a draft Food Security Strategy, which set out four objectives for food security on Jersey;

To secure the availability of food
To secure the affordability of food
To secure the ability to produce food
To secure against supply shocks.

When I asked via a freedom of information request for the work done by Delta Innovation, the reply was

“Justification for exemption: A draft food security strategy is being prepared and will be integrated within the new Rural Economy Strategy (RES) due to be published in autumn 2016."”

Well here is the Rural Economy Strategy, finally, and I have yet to see the draft food security strategy.

Instead, interesting though it is, we do have responses to a survey. But of that holy grail, outlined above, no sign at all. I am extremely disappointed at the failure of the two Ministers to ensure that it was present especially given the reason for not giving the information was that it would be “integrated” with the RES.

Now I have to ask yet an another request for sight of that Food Strategy Draft.

Meanwhile, here are some of the responses to their survey, which make interesting reading.

Reponses to Survey on Food Security

The Department of the Environment included a section of questions in the 2014 Jersey Annual Social Survey (JASS) to inform the development of a Food Security Strategy for Jersey.

Although a small proportion (3%) of people were unsure how long it would be before their household ran out of food at home, a third of people (32%) judged that their household would run out of food in ‘a few days’, and a slightly higher proportion felt they would last ‘about a week’. A fifth (18%) thought they would have enough food to last around two or three weeks, whilst less than one in twenty (3%) had enough food to last a month or more, and a similarly small proportion had enough for ‘a day or less’.

The majority of people (85%) thought that the main supermarkets in Jersey would be able to keep their shelves stocked for about a week or less, if they suddenly didn’t receive any deliveries from outside of Jersey. An additional 8% felt supermarkets would be able to keep their shelves stocked for ‘around two or three weeks’ under those circumstances.

In terms of where people felt the responsibility for making sure food is affordable should lie, there were higher proportions agreeing at some level that it is up to the Government to make sure food is affordable (90%), compared to those who agreed at some level that it was up to the supermarkets to make sure food is affordable (77%).

However, in terms of where residents felt the responsibility should lie for making sure food is available for Islanders day to day, a higher proportion felt that this was up to the supermarkets in Jersey (91%) compared to those who agreed it was up to the Government (73%). 

Although in an emergency situation, for example, if supplies were unable to get to Jersey, more people agreed that it would be up to the government to make sure there was enough food available for Islanders to buy. Three-fifths (59%) of residents thought that the Government of Jersey should have a stockpile of non-perishable foods for Islanders to buy in an emergency situation. 

When asked how long they felt this supply should last for, a range of opinions were given from one in ten (9%) saying up to a few days, a third (33%) suggesting ‘about a week’, and around a quarter suggesting ‘around two or three weeks’ (25%) or ‘a month or more’ (27%).

Few people (5%) felt that all the food needed to feed Jersey residents should be grown in Jersey rather than imported, although half (50%) thought that ‘most’ of the food needed should be grown in Jersey, with some imports for variety. Two-fifths (39%) thought that ‘some’ of the food should be grown in the Island, with most being imported. Less than 1% felt that ‘none’ of the food needed should be grown in Jersey.

A quarter of households (27%) in Jersey reported growing some of their own vegetables and about a fifth (18%) grew some fruit. One in eight (13%) fished (including for shellfish) for their own consumption. Much smaller proportions of households (around one in a hundred) kept animals for eggs, meat or milk.

The majority of the public felt that that the Government of Jersey should have a stockpile of non-perishable foods for Islanders to buy in an emergency situation (2014 JASS). Agricultural land for local production should be given the highest level of protection and the implementation of the Food Security Strategy would help in securing the availability and ability to produce food locally to secure against supply shocks and help protect local farming. 

Should local production fall away, this will result in Jersey becoming almost totally reliant on imported food and potentially vulnerable to supply shocks.

And we can see this in the photo at the top of this blog!

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