During this Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing disruption to our local food supply chain which puts an emphasis on the importance of our agriculture and fisheries to our economy.
Jersey being a small island (45 sq miles) is famous for its produce such as potatoes, milk and fish however despite this we as an island import 80% of our food requirements. Local producers meet 24% of our vegetable needs, 4% of beef, lamb and pork and 14% demand for fish.
Whilst the risk of disruption to our food imports may be small even at 5% to 10%, even a small risk merits strategic action to be taken.
A working group of farmers, food producers, wholesalers, retailers and exporters has been formed to consider how to increase local food supply. Given the recent unprecedented events and the pressures that have been placed on the supply chain, it has placed greater scrutiny on our island food production.
There is no reason why Jersey can’t increase local food production and in particular, identify what crops are essential for islanders. It may well transpire that consumers will have to change there buying habits to seasonal produce rather than having access to strawberries and avocados all year round.
One local campaigner is behind a project to highlight the islands food security. She has put together a map of the island which details numerous honesty box stales selling local produce grown by farmers and smallholders highlighting the various types of produce available such as potatoes, seasonal vegetables, organic stales, farm shops, eggs, plants etc.
In addition in the last few weeks with most of the islands food outlet’s, food retailers and the fish market closed we have seen a huge demand for local fish with the fishermen taken to selling their catch on the key side (whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines).
These are great initiatives and with the provenance of our food being of the utmost importance, it seems more vital now than ever to by local, not only for the health benefits that you get from eating seasonal produce, the reduction in food miles and the support that local producers receive allows them to continue to operate.This has proven to be extremely popular with the locals who have embraced our local fishermen, which has enabled many of them to carry on working and save their businesses from collapse.
This is the perfect opportunity for our government and consumers to come together and support local business in these extremely challenging times.