August 21 marks the day the UK would run out of food if it relied on homegrown produce
Britain needs to drive a ‘horticultural revolution’ to get more home grown fruit and vegetables on retailers’ shelves.
With the nation being encouraged to eat healthier, the NFU said domestic production of horticultural products fell below its potential.
And it needed Government investment in water infrastructure to reach its potential.
Today (August 21) marks the day the UK would run out of food if it relied solely on UK produce. The nation’s food security currently sits at 64 per cent.
But self-sufficiency in horticulture was even lower at just 18 per cent for fruit and 55 per cent in fresh vegetables.
For both veg and potatoes, this has fallen by 16 per cent in the past 20 years, with potatoes at 71 per cent self-sufficiency.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “For an island nation, being able to feed our population is absolutely critical. Even as a global trading nation, shocks can expose fragilities in any reliance on imports. We all experienced the impact of this during lockdown.
She added imports would always play an important role in our food system but government needed to pay more attention to food security.
“The entire economy is now aiming to build back better, to build back greener. British farming can be central to that green recovery. We have a golden opportunity to place food security at the centre of our food system and become a global leader in sustainable food production.”
She added the UK could not let its food security slip any further.
“Food security should be placed at the heart of wider government policies and there needs to be an annual reporting system to ensure we do not allow our domestic food production to diminish.
“Our self-sufficiency in vegetables and potatoes is falling and it is low in fruit. We can and should drive a horticulture revolution.
“At a time when we should all be eating more fruit and veg, we should be looking to our farmers to deliver more quality, affordable and home-grown fresh produce to our shelves.”
But this needed government investment.
“Better water infrastructure can allow us to use one of our most abundant natural resources in rainfall to more effectively grow food and take a more integrated approach to water management.
“Farmers are uniquely placed to improve their productivity while delivering for the environment. It is crucial there is investment in agriculture as part of our green recovery in order to increase our food security, level up rural economic growth, drive green job opportunities, stimulate demand for rural tourism and help deliver the NFU’s ambition for British farming to be net zero by 2040.”