George Eustace, Minister of State at DEFRA, took the platform at a Fruit Focus seminar to address the nation’s lack of food self-sufficiency.
As a newly elected Minister in a new Conservative Government, he was quick to confirm his adherence to the recent Conservative election manifesto, and that he was actively in consultation with all sectors of the agricultural industry. The huge decline in the nation’s self-sufficiency in fresh food was of great concern to DEFRA.
He cited the successes of apricot and berry growers, and commented that the nation’s genetic resources would be crucial for future success in addressing the issue. “We have to maximise gene ‘editing’ and accelerate genetic development, especially when addressing the continued loss of available pesticides for crop management” said Mr Eustace.
He also proposed a threefold increase in apprenticeships, a doubling of fruit exports, continued efforts towards import substitution and the development of new markets in emerging economies. “This Government recognises that agriculture and horticulture together are the nation’s largest manufacturing industry, and have to remain competitive and increase our self-sufficiency”.