MPs have been told that vertical farms and the wider urban food production supply chain, are not the solutions to improving UK food security. Julia King, who leads work on adaptation to climate change on behalf of Defra was giving evidence to an inquiry into environmental change and food security by the Environmental Audit Committee of MPs.
Professor Dame King said: “I think we are on the cautious end of estimates of the role of urban food production and of how big an impact it will have on food security. It is not that vertical farming with artificial light and irrigation is going to replace food growing in fields but it might be able to do important niche things.
“I do not see us moving to industrialised food production in urban areas replacing the need for farming. I think the rise in vertical farming was never developed to replace other types of farming but to compliment it.”
Another one of her main points was perhaps the most important of all. She told the inquiry the government was still doing too little to help farmers and growers adapt to climate change, particularly on water use and storage, and drought management.
But help needs to extend beyond climate change if we want to improve food security. Growers and farmers need more direct support from government if this is to be achieved anytime soon.
Food security cannot possibly be improved in the UK while glasshouse growers, vertical farm operators and other farmers are struggling with things like labour shortages, energy savings and a planning system that is inconsistent.
You cannot solve the problem unless you treat the symptoms right?
We cannot possibly produce more home-grown food crops unless there is a solid platform in place to allow growers to grow more. At times it seems there are far too many challenges and barriers in place to allow them to do so.
How are these to be resolved? Much more thought is needed in our national agriculture and horticulture strategies to deliver any type of sustainable food Security, so it’s back to the drawing board if we are to make progress in this area.
The March issue is out now & includes
- New Delhi virus resurfaces
- Allensmore wins international award
- EAMU company appointments
- UK scoops top awards
- Now is the time to reduce peat
- Bright lights in Essen
- Promoting UK production
- CEA sector positive despite slowdown
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