Radical yet practical ways to improve food production

The RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission has published its final report, setting out radical yet practical ways to improve food production in the face of current challenges. They say

The actions we take in the next ten years, to stop ecosystems collapse, to recover and regenerate nature and to restore people’s health and wellbeing are now critical.

Our Future in the Land makes fifteen recommendations. First, under the headline “Healthy food is every body’s business”, they suggest a greater commitment is needed to growing our own food using sustainable agricultural practices. Increasing UK food production would help reconnect people to nature and boost all of our health and well-being. Further, community food plans should be established, bringing people together to meet their area’s needs.

The second headline, “Farming is a force for change, unleashing a fourth agricultural revolution driven by public values” includes recommendations such as establishing a National Agroecology Development Bank and formulating a ten-year transition plan to fully sustainable farming by 2030. In addition, the report highlights the role of farmers, saying that innovation by farmers should receive more backing and that every farmer should have access to advice through farmer support networks.

The report includes reference to the need to implement the ten elements of Agroecology as set out by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. These were developed by the UN to achieve Zero Hunger and other Sustainable Development Goals. I’m keen on the promoting the Circular and solidarity economy, to

reconnect producers and consumers, provide innovative solutions for living within our planetary boundaries while ensuring the social foundation for inclusive and sustainable development.

The third headline, “A countryside that works for all” encapsulates themes which are key in an area such as North Devon, which is primarily a rural, agricultural economy. The report says that a national land-use framework should be established in England, to encourage the best use of land for the public good. It calls for more investment in the skills and infrastructure needed to grow the rural economy. Importantly, the report highlights the need for developing sustainable solutions to meet rural housing need.

Just ten homes in each village would solve the rural housing crisis. New homes, built beautifully and with local materials, would provide affordable housing for local people.

Finally, there is a call to establish a National Nature Service to utilise “the energy of young people to kickstart the regenerative economy.”

You can read the full report here.

* Kirsten Johnson was the PPC for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election. She is a pianist and composer at www.kirstenjohnsonpiano.com.

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  • nigel hunter 17th Jul '19 - 2:24pm

    Have not yet read the report but some things come to mind. When we get floods via environmental problems (The Wash Norfolk for example) this will reduce the area for food production. Can we utilise hill farms and modern ways of growing ie Upward growth in ‘tower farms’. The encouragement of grow your own , a WW2 mentality.

  • William Fowler 17th Jul '19 - 4:28pm

    Plants don’t seem to like me very much, out of five fruit trees I’ve planted only one has borne any fruit. Things like blackberries that are designed to keep humans away from them do very well along the boundaries, though, only effort I have to make is to pick them. when nice and juicy. I don’t mind turning my back garden into a veg and fruit plot, be interesting to see if climate change and technology allows us to grow mangoes, melons and durians. Given that lots of people are not going to be working very long hours a few decades in the future (right now in my own case) being much more food sufficient whilst having free solar power and heating will be quite pleasant – but only for those who have a bit of land or access to flat apartment roofs, so more inequality to get people all riled up.

  • If as a result of changes to our food production, distribution and retail more of our food is grown without chemicals and within these islands, we can contribute to efforts to combat climate change, improve our health and reform our communities.

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