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09th Apr 2020

Why self-sufficiency is the way forward during the Covid-19 crisis

Alice Kiernan

“I think it’s really highlighted, this crisis, how we’re so reliant on imports of food, particularly veg and fruit.”

As the Covid-19 crisis continues in Ireland, one of the main concerns remains the demand for food and grocery shopping.

Michael Kelly, founder of GIY, has always had a passion for self-sufficiency and for growing our own food. As restrictions in Ireland tighten, he feels the best way forward for Ireland is an increase and emphasis on the importance of self-sufficiency.

Speaking on JOE’s business show, All In, backed by AIB, Michael spoke about how GIY have played a key role in helping us become more self-sufficient while also living a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at the same time.

“I think we are starting to hear some narrative around fresh food shortages and it’s really exposed something we’ve been saying for years.

“Over the last 20 to 30 years, the number of veg and fruit growers commercially has just absolutely plummeted and they’ve been driven out of the market by obviously cheaper imports coming in.

“I think the worries that I have about the medium-term is that almost all of the veg and fruit across Europe is actually picked by seasonal labour, an awful lot of it from Eastern Europe and that labour supply has completely dried up. Either they’ve gone home, or they can’t get out of their own countries to do it. That’s leading to serious labour shortages.”

“We always talk about self-sufficiency in GIY and getting people to grow their own food as a way to become that bit more self-sufficient and live healthier and more sustainably at the same time, but I think it’s really highlighted, this crisis, how we’re so reliant on imports of food, particularly veg and fruit.

“90% of the veg and fruit we eat in this country is imported. So, I think that’s going to shift. I think more people are going to get back into horticulture in Ireland and growers are going to start growing more of their own food because I think they’ll have to, the supermarkets will need it.

“There are some positive legacies coming out of the awfulness of this crisis and it’s not about taking advantage of anything, but I think there are potentially very positive outcomes if we become more local, more seasonal, more focused on homegrown produce, whether that’s in your own gardens or in our own country.”

All In, backed by AIB, is available everywhere you get your podcasts and on YouTube.