If ever there was a time for extra support for the glasshouse sector, it is now. With energy prices at an all-time high and labour availability at an all-time low-times are tough.
Lee Stiles, Secretary of the Lea Valley Growers Association told the Sunday Times last month that there will be a shortage of homegrown glasshouse crops during 2023, until gas prices drop significantly.
According to the report, the National Farmers’ Union estimates that domestic production of tomatoes and cucumbers last year fell to its lowest level since 1985, when it began monitoring levels. LVGA expects its region to produce about 30 per cent fewer cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes than usual, potentially pushing up prices.
Another blow came last month following the Government announcement that energy support for businesses will be reduced from April.
If the current strikes are to go anything by, then the government isn’t in the mood for giving out an extra money at the moment.
And in some respects, you cannot blame them.
Whether it is wrong, or right, horticulture just isn’t going to be a priority for government in the foreseeable future. But then surely we have to forego the ambition to grow more domestic produce and reduce imports then? We cant have it both ways.
It is important to remember that a thriving Horticulture industry plays a significant role for the economy, in job creation, improving the environment and offers health and well-being benefits. But that largely seems to be ignored.
Industry will have to fight for itself over the next few years, but with that will come tough business decisions-with many growers questioning whether it will actually be less expensive to grow nothing.
But for most, giving up is not an option so industry needs to find other ways of developing a sustainable and viable future for itself. One of those ways will depend on the success of the new industry-run replacement for the AHDB, another will be obtaining investment for development through innovation and technology funding streams.
One thing is for certain, that for the short-medium term, we cannot rely on government support to provide a foundation for future success, we need to continue to carve that out ourselves. Do you agree?
The February issue is out now & includes
- Fall in Dutch ornamentals production
- Fund opens for automation R&D
- Growers sought for trials of aeroponics
- Green light for peat free growing media
To read these and more from “The Commercial Greenhouse Grower” subscribe today – find out more here.