The Environment by Martin Heath

Tuesday 19th July 2022 9:30 am
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Martin Heath Column
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Food plan! When it comes to keeping a nation together there are four vital things that need to be in place: Food and at an affordable price; Water; Shelter, in other words, a home to live in; and Energy to cook with and to heat your home in winter, plus of course for transport.

No country is safe without these in place. We are witnessing as I write this, what seems to be a revolution in Sri Lanka, over the very same essentials that have become just too expensive for the majority of the population. In some ways it’s a bit like the UK, a small country with few natural resources.

The Environment Minister (not sure what one now!) is making more money available to farmers to grow more food like peas and beans; which are a good source of protein, but unfortunately, (just like Boris didn’t,) has not got a plan for the long-term to save this very over-crowded Island from food shortages and very high prices in the long-term.

You may think that citizens in a country like ours would not invade offices of the government, but history would point out that when a nation is desperate and the citizens don’t think their leaders have a plan, anything can happen.

The plan put forward to help feed the population in the future, is as usual, too little and without any real acknowledgement that climate change if allowed to continue as it is, will challenge how we grow food right across the planet. This will leave us vulnerable as we only grow around 50% of our own food at this time, and it takes many years to change this.

As I have said before, ‘a nation that can’t feed itself, is at the mercy of other countries and how much they will sell it to us for,’ that is not sustainable. We need to stop building on good quality farmland and especially land within five miles of the coast, where we need to build desalination plants and pump the water up to the farmlands to water the crops.

Although no one completely knows what climate change will do to the British Isles, but we do know it will be hotter and fresh-water will be a key commodity for food growing. With the push to build more and more homes on the only land that is left for large-scale building being farm-land, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see we can’t have both food and houses on the same land.

There is work going on to grow food in a different way, such as in a laboratory, and of course well on the way, from insects of all types. Personally, this brave new world of strange food is not for me, and I guess, not for most people. Unless the government gets a plan soon to get to 80% home grown food, it will be – ‘pass the bug pie please mum,’ ‘Yuck!’

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