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Security strategy to safeguard nation's food supply

Friday, 23 May 2014

Tynwald is to be asked to approve a strategy that will ensure the Island's population has reliable and nutritional food supplies in the decades to come. 

Manx produce news release

Phil Gawne MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, will ask the June sitting of Tynwald to accept the Isle of Man Food Security Strategy.

The blueprint for the next 20 to 40 years addresses concerns identified by senior scientists and agriculture policy experts about the sustainability of food supplies as a result of environmental changes and rising and volatile prices, seen in recent difficult economic times. Professor Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government between 2008 and 2013, outlined the concerns in his report, Foresight, Future of Food and Farming

These concerns prompted the Council of Ministers to order the first ever strategy to ensure the Isle of Man will have plentiful supplies of affordable food to meet dietary needs and maintain health in the coming decades. 

The wide-ranging strategy, devised by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, is set against the global backdrop of increased demand for food resulting from a rising population, the need to dramatically reduce waste, EU targets that will, by 2020, require 10% of energy used for transportation to be drawn from renewable sources and growing demand for meat, leading to crops being used to feed livestock instead of people. 

It addresses areas such as: 

  • Growth of the Island's food industry and encouraging exports 
  • Food safety 
  • Support offered to farmers and fishermen 
  • Protecting the supply chain, including transportation of food to the Island 
  • The threat of climate change and measures to offset it
  • Promoting ways to reduce food waste.  

The strategy is intended to guide all relevant decision-making by the Isle of Man Government that could impact on the production or importation of food. 

It identifies next steps for Government Departments, including developing plans for the growth of the local food and fishing industries and improving the marketing through a food business development strategy; legislating to counteract climate change and ensuring the reliability of critical infrastructure such as ports and utilities. 

Minister Gawne said:

‘I can understand that, with food on their plates and in the shops, people may take for granted that this will always be the case and won’t have the security of food supplies high on their list of concerns. 

‘However, we face global challenges which mean we need to think differently about our relationship with food. We need to produce more food without damaging the natural resources we all depend upon. We need to feed more people the world over, many of whom want or need a better diet. And we need to do this in the light of the increasing challenge of climate change. 

‘The term “food security” is used to describe this challenge.’

The Minister continued:

‘Living on an Island presents additional challenges, both in delivering economies of scale in local production and ensuring reliable and affordable transport networks for the import and export of goods. It is vital that these additional challenges are factored in to food policy to ensure that a successful and thriving local food industry can form part of the strategy.

‘The agri-food and fisheries industry contributes more than £70 million and 1,200 jobs to our economy. A key part of the strategy is a recommendation that Government focuses on a programme of food business development that will help ensure that the local food sector can thrive as an innovative, competitive and resilient sector and a sustainable source of growth and jobs. This not only supports the economy, but ensures a readily available and sustainable source of locally produced foodstuffs as well as being responsible for shaping the landscape and the culture of the Isle of Man as we know it.’

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