At the best of times, the UK climate and terrain limits the range and quantity of fresh produce we can grow here.
This Brexit means we’ve grown used to empty supermarket shelves, especially now midway through the ‘hungry months‘ when little can be harvested. (1)
Add in unprecedented extreme weather events, even possible climate breakdown. (2) (3)
There’s an urgent need for substantial investment in horticultural technologies:
- Zero-carbon, or as near as dammit to zero carbon. (4) Better still, carbon negative technologies.
- Micro-climate technologies to meet the growing needs of fresh produce.
- Remember, too, that most crops will not grow at temperatures above 35 degrees.
- All of the above needs to be at scale. (5)
- Allotments, even lots of market gardens, simply won’t do it — and that’s without the exigencies of climate breakdown. (4)
The Government has blithely stated that the private sector will invest in horticulture technology. (4) This won’t happen because the size of investment to meet the scale needed is huge and the return on capital (ROC) is marginal, if at all.
The investment needed has to come from Government. And soon.
(1) How this Brexit is putting our food supplies at risk
(2) Which might well include the triggering of what the scientists call ‘tipping points’.
(3) see/listen to: The exchange in the Rethink Climate: Pledges and progress podcast: 19:16-22:05.
(4) For info about the quantities cited in the table, see Annex A and Annex B of Our Response to the Birmingham Food Strategy Consultation Draft.
note: This Birmingham Food Strategy draft is not by us, but the City Council.
(5) Urban production of novel foods might possibly be part of our escape from from food system breakdown.
(6) page 16-17 of the Government food strategy White Paper presented to Parliament in June 2013.