Within the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (the FAO) ‘food security’ has been used in terms of dealing with very immediate threats to populations in the developing world such as poverty, food shortages and starvation. Food security in this sense refers to the ability to make food immediately available and affordable across a given population. The European Commission Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development use ‘food security’ in a somewhat different context; that of ensuring that the EU as a whole maintains through the Common Agricultural Policy the potential to produce food[i]. The UK’s Food Security Assessment[ii] addresses a series of perceived threats to the UK’s food supply, looking again at availability and affordability but also at the ability of the country to produce food.
Food security in the Jersey context is perhaps different from all of these, although it does share common factors. Jersey’s island status and its high population density provide unique challenges to the availability of food and the ability to produce food. And whilst Jersey is relatively wealthy there is a significant part of the population that does not share this wealth, providing challenges to food affordability. However, food security is not simply an operational issue. The extent to which people feel that they are food secure has direct bearing on their sense of wellbeing. To borrow a phrase from economists, it increases their overall welfare. This being the case the factors that go together to provide food security also have a social and a political value.
We worked with the States of Jersey to develop a draft Food Security Strategy, which set out four objectives for food security on Jersey;
- To secure the availability of food
- To secure the affordability of food
- To secure the ability to produce food
- To secure against supply shocks.
The draft strategy was intended to identify where food security problems would be most likely to arise and set out mitigating actions; to feed into island-wide planning on Jersey’s overall security and to underpin the developing vision for Jersey’s agriculture and for food production on the island.
[i] European Commission, 2010. The CAP towards 2020: Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future. Brussels, 18.11.2010 COM (2010) 672 final.
[ii] Defra, 2010. UK Food Security Assessment: Detailed analysis.