Work is underway to address the impact the invasion of Ukraine is having on the Isle of Man’s food security.
Minister for Environment Clare Barber said that because of this and rising inflation continuing to affect fuel, freight, energy and food prices, there was much uncertainty.
She added that currently food sector margins are tight and there is fear prices may continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
‘My officers are continuing to review the impact of the war in Ukraine, the increase in import prices and the effect this has had on the island’s food security,’ she said.
‘This year will bring uncertainty to the food sector which will continue with price inflation which will mean margins for the food sector will be extremely tight.’
This was in response to a question asked by Ayre and Michael MHK Tim Johnston in the House of Keys sitting this week when he wanted to know what impact the island was facing as and what DEFA was doing to mitigate this impact.
The Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture is working with all sectors, including agriculture and fisheries, to understand what they feel is needed at this time.
Mrs Barber said the island relies heavily on imports but it does have a strong local market and she would encourage everyone to look into buying local produce.
She said: ‘The circumstances exacerbated by the situation in Ukraine highlight the importance of those involved in local food production and the need for food security.
‘Food security is a careful balance of maintaining and supporting local production and strengthening of import routes where that is assessed to be the most important option.
‘We’re not currently self-sufficient in green vegetables and ambient store ingredients, such as dried pasta, and in these areas we do rely heavily on imports. We’re working with the relevant organisations to endeavour to strengthen resilience in these areas.
‘I’d encourage everyone to look at where they can buy local and sustainable, seasonal produce, not just at times of crisis but year round.’
The Isle of Man Food Security Strategy, adopted in 2014, though still relevant, is under review and early commitment to the Island Plan has seen work begin in this area, according to the minister.
She added: ‘My department is working with key stakeholders to help understand how as a department we can both support food producers but also ensure the island’s food security is maintained and enhanced.’
A Food Security Group has been established as part of this, with its first meeting on Monday.
It’s made up of industry representatives, retailers, food producers and government members and will be a forum through which government can discuss any issues in food production markets, margins of price and listen to the needs of the industry.
Ayre and Michael MHK Tim Johnston said there was worry that with the average age of food producers being over 60, it’s putting the island’s food security at risk.
To this, Mrs Barber said there was succession planning in farming and fisheries and it was ‘heartening’ to see a large quantity of people coming through.