The population of the world is rising inexorably and before many years have passed it is predicted that the food supply will not be sufficient to meet global demand.
There is a finite amount of fertile land on which to grow food crops. As we move forward the best use will have to be made of that land to meet the ever-increasing demand for food. This must be achieved without damaging the environment.
The UK government published a White Paper last year to initiate discussions and debate amongst the organisations that are directly involved in the production of food. This led to the creation of the Green Food Project in which the interested parties are taking part. The resulting consortium have now issued an initial report that pulls no punches in stating the problems that the UK will face with food production in the future.
Norfolk’s part in all this arose from the work of a sub-committee that concentrated on Norfolk agriculture. They studied the central part of the county, the North Norfolk coast and north-west Norfolk. The findings indicate that there are some huge challenges ahead as the farmers in those areas strive to meet an increasing demand for their products. Also taken into account were the predicted effects of global warming and the unique nature of some of the land that comprises areas of outstanding natural beauty, with internationally important nature reserves and an important tourism industry.
Global warming would be a major challenge as Norfolk already has one of the lowest rainfall levels in the UK. Decreased rainfall in the future will mean more soil erosion and warmer weather will cause pest invasions that will damage crops. Irrigation will become a major issue and the water will have to be supplied from somewhere. This will mean major investment by Anglian Water will be required over the years ahead.
The challenges are great and it will take the combined efforts of many agencies and organisations to meet them effectively.