My wife is a refugee. It instilled in her and her family the need to stock up on food in case something bad happened.
We always have extra boxes of tomatoes, big bags of rice and a freezer full of meat. Conveniently, right worry about opening the weekly grocery store, and it shows that whatever comes, we have a good stockpile.
I have to admit I was prepared – Covid is a big concern, and from the very beginning of the pandemic, I stocked up on lard.
I was not the only one who did it, but our fears then, as advised by the Government, were unfounded because there was so much food. We were told that food had been stocked in case of a bad Brexit and that the supply lines were still good. Farmers, logistics and shops remains open – there are plans to prevent food shortages.
Not once during a pandemic have I gone looking for food and not finding it. The system worked and the panic buying stopped.
Few, however, see the potential impact of war on European soil between one of the energy giants and the European economy.
Now it seems that food shortages could be a problem not only for our country but also in Europe and the whole world.
Just this week, a secret government memo revealed that we could face food shortages, worst-case energy allocations and cuts to public transport.
Those who are old enough to remember lived through a period like this before the Emergency saw all of this as the driving force for the economy. But perhaps food scarcity is the most frightening prospect.
On the other hand, since Ukraine’s fertile fields are not sown this year because of the war, the global supply of cereals could fall by as much as a third. In addition, Russian grain, which will not be sold in Europe, will have to go to other markets – perhaps China.
All of them sow trouble for Europe. Like Richard Hackett’s Independent farming pointed out that Ireland depends on these markets.
In fact visible on a daily basis, we will see bread prices rise as early as two weeks from now. Before the invasion of Ukraine, the price of premium wheat increased by 20pc.
Pat The Baker CEO Declan Fitzgerald said people should be prepared for a significant rally. The longer the battle in the European basin continues, the more volatile the grain prices will be. Mr. Fitzgerald was careful to note that raising prices would only add to the costs they face.
Food shortages will also be tied to energy and transportation costs as fuel prices, as we all know, have increased at filling stations.. There is a double factor here that is the low oil production from Covid and then the Russian influence.
This week it was announced that the Government will cut excise tax on fuel – petrol 20 cents a liter off and diesel 15c a liter.
However, the real surprise emerged when we found out that agricultural diesel would only be cut by 2 cents a liter. Yes, agricultural lobbying groups have been outraged.
But only when we consider Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue’s next suggestion can we see that farmers, and the appropriate price they face, is not taken into consideration.
He has been under great pressure to ensure that there is food security in Ireland and that farmers have access to grain and fertilizer for livestock and land respectively. The situation changed rapidly for the Minister, and a national committee on food and food security was established.
Mr. McConalogue also came up with the idea that farmers grow at least some of their crops to provide animal feed. It’s a scheme that works well in some areas of the country, suitable for tillage but not so much in wet soil and heavy in other parts.
This plan has been called into question by experts who say that the land, the ability to dry and store the grain is impractical, especially given the specialized knowledge to grow the crops.
To outsiders, farmers are farmers – they can get their hands on anything and it will grow and bear fruit, but farmers who raise dairy or beef cattle are not experts at tillage.
Likewise, a farmer on the sheep hill in Connemara did not even have land to cultivate.
Teagasc figures show that the country’s 23.4pc is highly suitable for tillage and 11.7pc is moderately suitable. But part of this land is used for other agricultural products such as dairy farming. It is not an easy one-size-fits-all solution.
The truth is that we have considered cheap food for too long. Farmers are about to lose their jobs, face mounting bills, concerns about suicide and shortages of essential inputs.
More than ever, we live in an interconnected world – what happens in eastern Europe will have a powerful impact here. Where we go next is a mystery.
Governments, departments and even agencies around the world are looking to the future of food security, and that is what will happen. collision all of us.
In my other life as a farmer, I was herding sheep. I want to make sure that the price I receive for my sheep this year reflects all the incremental costs I incur. That’s not my business, it’s the market.
But I plan keep farm and help to feed the nation and the world as much as I can.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/knock-on-effects-of-the-war-in-ukraine-will-threaten-food-security-almost-everywhere-41433714.html The aftermath of the war in Ukraine will threaten food security almost everywhere