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Locusts: Africa and South Asia

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 54113, tabled on 3 June 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of recent locust swarms in Africa and South Asia on the supply of imported food into the UK.

Answered on

12 June 2020

We continuously monitor a range of regularly reported and publicly available statistics and data on supply of food to the UK. Through these close observations, we are aware of how locust swarms are affecting parts of Africa and Asia, and their impact on the countries affected. There is currently no specific impact on trade volumes as a direct result of the locust swarms.

We are also including a new requirement in the Agriculture Bill for the UK Government to report on food security to Parliament at least once every five years, demonstrating the importance we place on this subject. The report will contain information on food supply including the role of strong domestic production alongside diverse sources of supply. The report is a major undertaking and will draw evidence from a wide range of sources including an analysis of the key trends.

The UK has a robust and reliable food industry that is experienced in dealing with scenarios that can affect food supply, from adverse weather damaging crops to transport issues abroad. The size and diversity of the industry is a key factor in enabling the food sector to remain resilient to food supply chain disruptions. The expertise, capability, levers and resilience to plan for and respond to food supply disruption lies within the industry.

The Government has well established ways of working with the food industry on potential disruptions to the supply chain, and we will continue to work closely with stakeholders and industry to support preparations for a range of scenarios. We also engage widely with international partners to share information and good practice guidance regarding the security and resilience of food supply.