A Resilient Local Food System
Practically all Welsh agriculture is heavily reliant on just three products; lamb, beef and milk. The vast majority is exported as raw [unprocessed] product and sold as such on the commodities market. This gives us a number of serious problems: A more diverse and local food system will address many of these problems. It will certainly make a big contribution to a durable regional economy for the Fforest Calon Cymru corridor:
Cropping enterprises are generally more profitable [although more risky]; the gross margin per hectare of cabbages, for instance, is typically more than 10 times that of beef and sheep enterprises.
A wider range of products means we can develop a local food system that offers fruit and vegetables, bread, beer etc. as well as meat and dairy.
A local food system provides opportunities for adding value; farmers and growers get retail prices for more of their product. They become price makers instead of price inheritors. It also creates jobs in food retailing and processing and supports the local economy.
Each hectare of horticulture, using small-scale production methods, creates 2 full-time jobs. At present only 0.1% of the agricultural land in Wales is used to grow fruit and vegetables [3% of the nation’s 5-per-day needs.]
A local food economy for the Fforest Calon Cymru will entail:
An increase in production of arable and horticultural crops.
Equipment and storage facilities for primary processing of crops
[ washing, packing etc.]
Facilities for adding value [eg. making cordials, jams, ice-cream, sausages, sauces etc.]
A local marketing infrastructure [ local wholesalers/ retailers / farmers’ markets / food co-ops, CSA projects etc.]
A local market; ie. a customer base that will buy through all these routes.