Food security and self-sufficiency in seed are the basic postulates of the sovereignty and independence of every community.
The production, processing, transport, packaging, storage and sale of food have significant and multifaceted impacts on the environment and society:
- The way food is produced, transported and stored affects the quality and safety of food and therefore human health.
- Agriculture has a major impact on water and soil quality, biodiversity and habitats.
- The way food is produced and the following stages of supply, especially transport, determine the impact of communities on climate change.
- Food sufficiency is highly dependent on weather and climate conditions, and the way food is produced is a key factor in the adaptation of communities to climate change.
- Agriculture is a major contributor to the development of rural areas, with a large number of jobs.
- Relationships in the food supply chain have an impact on social cohesion.
- The structure and cultivation of agricultural land is an important contributor to the image of the rural landscape, which is part of the tourist offer.
- Agriculture and forestry are also sources of renewable energy (forest and agricultural biomass for heat and electricity production, and oilseeds for biodiesel and fuel oils) and have an impact on the energy supply of communities.
So, what kind of food supply system should be in place to maximise the benefits and avoid the harmful effects, so as to contribute as much as possible to the overall and sustainable well-being of local communities? We expect a lot from such a system: food sovereignty, reliable availability of quality and safe food at affordable prices for all, rural jobs, minimised contribution to and adaptation to climate change, clean drinking water, unpolluted soils, intact biodiversity, a vibrant and developed countryside, contribution to energy supply, beautiful landscapes, rural-urban connectivity.
Measures to be taken:
- Protecting agricultural land: Preserving or increasing the amount and quality of agricultural land is a key condition for improving food self-sufficiency and for ensuring the food security of present and future generations.
- Supply of locally produced organic food: Organic farming is in harmony with natural processes, is sustainable and is part of a circular economy. In this sense, it is the antipode to conventional intensive agriculture, which maintains its productivity by the constant addition of chemical inputs. Organic farming protects soil and groundwater quality and preserves biodiversity. It is also climate-friendly, as it does not use fertilisers and chemically synthetic plant protection products and intentionally builds up humus in the soil, which increases carbon fixation and continuously restores soil quality. Soils that contain more humus are more resilient to the effects of climate change (droughts, extreme rainfall), which is why organic production with adapted species is one of the main strategies for adapting agriculture to climate change.
- Urban gardening: Increasing green spaces in cities for food production; and revitalising abandoned or static areas are important opportunity to increase food self-sufficiency.
- Grouping of agricultural producers: Cooperatives, by bringing together smaller producers to better ensure the reliable supply of larger quantities and the diversity of the organic food offer, are an important factor in increasing local self-sufficiency. They purchase and sell products, provide raw materials and tools for agricultural production, educate their members, encourage the production of regionally specific products, and build strong relationships between the individual providers and the cooperative.