Ireland is the second most food secure country in the world, ranking behind Finland out of 113 countries, according to the Global Food Security Index 2022 (The Economist Group, 2022). The Index recognises the increase in frequency of shocks which contribute to food insecurity. Innovation in food production and agricultural practices, placing farmers at the centre, and focusing particularly on the role of women in farming are ways the authors of the Index proposed to mitigate the impact of shocks. These are areas which require further exploration for Ireland.
The establishment of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee, headed by Teagasc, early last year followed the Government’s call for farmers to increase the production of grain to offset the negative impact on the supply of feed and fertiliser as a result of Russia’s actions. The Committee extends to a reported 30 representatives of the agriculture industry; however it is regrettable that neither the Environmental nor Community and Voluntary Pillar are represented on the new Committee. Changes in food production will come with environmental impacts. These impacts must be assessed and weighted against the benefit of pursuing any course of action. It is therefore imperative that the expertise is available within the Committee to conduct such assessments. A scarcity of food will likely increase food prices, disproportionately affecting lower income households. The absence of the Community and Voluntary Pillar from the Committee means there is no voice for those who will be most affected by increased costs.
This must be addressed.
The Economist Group. (2022). Global Food Security Index. Washington: The Economist Group.