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Food security

  • 14-03-2022 4:59pm
    Registered Users Posts: 575 ✭✭✭ VillageIdiot71

    Ukraine might be setting the context, but it looks likes there's a deeper issue

    I found this bit particularly interesting:

    'But if there is further turmoil in international markets, could Ireland feed itself? Ireland was named the most food secure nation out of 113 countries in November by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Food Security Index .... But our current food production model is overwhelmingly reliant on exporting meat, livestock and dairy.

    .... data compiled for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation indicated in 2016 that Ireland was a net importer of calories, as its net food energy imports exceeded exports by the equivalent of the calorie intake of 2.5m people. A separate study by the Sustainability Institute submitted to Government in 2019 estimated that “the proportion of food eaten that is produced in Ireland is at best no higher than one quarter and, in the worse scenario, could be below one fifth”.'

    Which I'd take to mean that domestic food production capacity is much lower than frequently stated, and not capable of giving us food security.

    Any thoughts?



  • Administrators, Social & Fun Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 67,711 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ Beasty

    There may be a global food crisis this year. In addition to shortfalls emanating from Russia and Ukraine, China is expecting possibly its worst wheat crop on record. There has been a late freeze in the US which is expected to damage many crops. Even in Ireland the flooding we encountered at Christmas has disrupted some crops. I know a local farmer who lost around 80 acres of crops. Now they can be replanted, although it may be a different crop profile, and with fertilisers becoming much more difficult to source and much more expensive to buy we are potentially facing a perfect storm. Overlay the increase in fuel prices (agri diesel was around 80c a litre a few months ago, but I saw it at €1.50 yesterday) and prices may rocket over the coming months. I guess it does make us think a bit more about food wastage as if we can get on top of that it may cushion the impact

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,898 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms

    total agri-food sector exports in 2019 was nearly €10.6 billion…

    2020 was 14.1 billion

    that information I’m taking from the governments own trade factsheets.

    We export tonnes upon tonnes of dairy, meat and fish…

    if the shït hits the fan, the government temporarily bans exports of certain foods..

  • Registered Users Posts: 75,085 ✭✭✭✭ Atlantic Dawn

    Our biggest problem would be access to and the price of fuel as farming is dependent on heavy machinery.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,643 ✭✭✭ joseywhales

    Sounds like we need a few thousand acres of spuds and we'll be sorted. We don't really produce grain.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,898 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms

    Don’t we import most or a lot of fuel from the Norwegians if my memory is correct? It’s strictly a business alliance as Norway are not in the eu..

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  • Registered Users Posts: 75,085 ✭✭✭✭ Atlantic Dawn

    Some but we also get it from Russia as per the tanker that unloaded today in Dublin Port. Problem is there's a global price on oil so with if one country stops supplying the slack will result in the price rising and supply limitations for everyone else.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,423 ✭✭✭ Nermal

    We're only ever as food secure as the large military power right next to us is.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,838 ✭✭✭ BrianD3

    Only skimmed that article, I would have thought that we could feed ourselves if we dramatically changed what we eat (reduce consumption of food that isn't/can't be produced here ) and farmed more intensively. Then again the three fs would be big factors for the latter.

    Re: fertiliser, how much of the nutrients from our organic fertiliser (slurry) end up leeching into steams and rivers. Also, the weather and the issues getting machinery onto land affect application of fertiliser

    Our high rating for food security may be based on what we could potentially do and based on various assumptions rather than what we actually do. As can be seen with the recent situation where someone had the genius idea of "let's plant crops", it's not a trivial matter to make changes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,981 ✭✭✭✭ Thelonious Monk

    I wonder if the current crisis will get us to diversify, however costly it may be for machinery and all else required to grow veg and grains where possible.

    We import so much from Spain and Portugal who are currently experiencing record droughts and crop failures too.

    I know generally doesn't believe in climate change but I think these kinds of droughts and other weather issues could cause more crop failures worldwide, I mean we've had fodder crisis here and had to import lots more, what if that happens again and it's not possible to import? What if it's not possible to import the millions of tonnes of feed we already do each year? It could be disastrous.

    They really should have been working on this for years at this stage instead of just focusing on a couple of foodstuffs produced for export.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,361 ✭✭✭✭ Danzy

    Saw a great line from a Ukrainian farmer.

    That they are the first front but the 2nd one will be in North Africa.

    It's the impact on food prices doubling that we worry about, no one here will starve though diet maybe become less exciting and varied.

    Have seen estimates that we will drop a billion litres of milk this year, hard to gauge the drop in beef as it will be softened by dairy cows going to the factory, which will affect both milk and beef for years to come.

    Inputs for agriculture have left all reason or relativity to price behind.

    Every one I know in Agriculture is cutting yield this year, no choice.

    50% of global export wheat is West of the Urals, from export ban, little sowing and short of fertilizer and spray at best. Yields Will be significantly down down in a way we haven't seen globally since WW2.

    Urea at its cheapest is quickly approaching 4 times average of previous years, that's going to be a problem in Asia where nitrogen is thrown out on fields at rates and abandon that are truly shocking.

    The idea of Putin using a small nuke in Kiev is way behind the impact he'll have globally, even if he does it, the food crisis is an existential threat to Europe.

    Nor is there any political urgency to tackle it.

    How big will the food drop be is the only question.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 44,547 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder

    also, the N in NPK fertiliser is massively dependent on natural gas in its production, AFAIK. i've seen tweets from farmers to the effect that well known suppliers in ireland are no longer guaranteeing delivery or stocking fertiliser.

  • Registered Users Posts: 575 ✭✭✭ VillageIdiot71

    Indeed, I'd have thought it was worth discussion. Have you a basis for the statement "we produce enough to feed 11 times our population", bearing in mind that we seem to be net food energy importers?

    I think our high assessment for food security has to do with affordability of food; Singapore, in the past, rated highly on that index - and they produce very little food themselves.

    I think we all have that vague idea that we're a food producing powerhouse, but the figures don't seem to bear that out. Our food imports amount to something like €10 billion, and the assessment seems to be that 75% of the food we actually eat is imported.

    And it's not obvious that we could make up the deficit by curtailing exports, at least not immediately. And during the Emergency, when food imports were curtailed, both urban and rural Ireland experienced malnutrition.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,426 ✭✭✭ maestroamado

    I expect one of the most food secure countries in the world is Spain as they appear to produce everything they eat... I have being saying this here for years and generally get hammered by the farming people on here... We produce very expensive steak that most people cannot afford and buy in vegetables from wherever as there is a lot of labour in producing same.

    I think it would be an idea for to ask farmers to produce food for human consumption on a small percentage of their land or other land to get whatever grants available for meat production... I think the first responsibility of government is to ensure food security as far as possible... we're not doing this in my opinion...

  • Posts: 0 Maya Faint Doe

    Anyone notice the lack of tomatoes in the shops over the last few days? I was in Tesco, Lidl and Aldi and not a one to be had. Seems a combination of factors at play, UK production down due to gas prices to heat greenhouses, truck strike in Spain and Morocco where Tesco at least get most of theirs from have introduced tariffs on their export effectively curtailing their export. Morocco aren't alone places like Egypt have done the same with lentils.

    BBC had a report over the week end mentioning the biggest seller of sunflower oil there only had 4 weeks worth left, other oils can be used instead in many cases but then you get into labelling issues in the short term.

  • Posts: 1,010 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    The first issues for Ireland will not be lack of calories or protein, but lack of essential vitamins, not in high content in our home produced food. The big one is vitamin C, though it can be made in a factory.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,361 ✭✭✭✭ Danzy

    Pine needles, fill a cup with needles, gently bruise em, put Luke warm water in, drink after 30 minutes.

    The vitamin c of 6 oranges

  • Posts: 1,010 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Good tip. Cannot see the crowd subsisting on Rustlers microwave burgers going for it. and we won't notice it til kids start showing up in school next year getting recurrent chest infections and teeth falling out

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,059 ✭✭✭ SouthWesterly

    Planted the first of my veg for this season. 15kg of early seed potatoes and onions.

    I'm self sufficient on veg all year round. The odd bits I buy are only non essentials.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,361 ✭✭✭✭ Danzy

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,446 ✭✭✭✭ kippy

    Good on ya. Not a feasible option for many of the population on an individual basis these days unfortunately

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,152 ✭✭✭ Pa ElGrande

    I was watching a presentation by Peter Zeihan (skip to 17 mins in) when this image about calorie imports caught my attention. Ireland in red, huh??

    Looking further: Can Ireland feed itself? Options for greater food security in a climate changed world

    My conclusion is that the proportion of food eaten that is produced in Ireland is at best no higher than one quarter and in the worse scenario could be below one fifth. Establishing a more precise figure - although certainly possible - is not something that needs to be determined. For the purposes of this study, the key message is that the greater portion of food eaten in Ireland is imported and that import dependency is extremely high, thereby leaving Ireland dangerously exposed to any significant disruption to the global supply chain. An equally important message - which Ireland’s government must begin to acknowledge - is that in a global warming challenged world, agriculture in Ireland is simply not fit for purpose.

    "Climate change" ain't an issue here, the document frames that incorrectly but the numbers raise a major question about Irish agricultural output and food processing here in Ireland. Much of our food relies on long supply chains.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,242 ✭✭✭ brokenangel

    Irish households waste a lot of food, about 150kg per household which costs over 700 euro.

    We have to stop this waste. Across Ireland over 303000 tonne of food from houses and restaurants. I know they have brought out an app and you can buy food now from restaurants before they throw out but this need to be rolled out to every restaurant/hotel.

    I was talking to friend who is farmer and seemingly they are been told if they over produce the price per ltr will be reduced. This is killing farmers. So when we have a food crisis companies are reducing the priced been paid to the people producing. F**king terrible.

  • Posts: 1,010 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Why not? Aside from appartments nearly every house has a garden. Google high density urban gardening

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,152 ✭✭✭ Pa ElGrande

    American yards tend to be much bigger than in Ireland, plus the growing season is favourable in many parts so it becomes viable. How many square meters do you need to feed a family of 4 in Ireland? Most urban gardens in the country are incapable of providing anything more than supplemental garnish or once a year supplement for the family. As a gardener in the city, my back garden is used to produce herbs, summer fruits and vegetables which are not available in the shop or taste better fresh, it you like fresh or tasty food supplements it's fine.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,647 ✭✭✭✭ Donald Trump

    I think it would be an idea for to ask farmers to produce food for human consumption on a small percentage of their land or other land to get whatever grants available for meat production... I think the first responsibility of government is to ensure food security as far as possible... we're not doing this in my opinion...

    Why don't you plant veg in your own back garden? It will cost you more than you can buy it for, but why not do it? It will also cost you a chunk later on to revert it back to grass, but ignore that.

    Once you have that done, why don't you dig up your front garden and plant veg in it too? You can sell it to other people at the same price they can get it in Aldi (i.e. at a loss)

  • Posts: 1,010 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Never said to provide entire calorie requirment. But serving of veg for couple of months is very doable

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,426 ✭✭✭ maestroamado

    I do plant a small patch of veg... You miss the point if Aldi etc closed for a week we have no food... so you have all your money and shares and no food...