Delegates at the World Potato Congress (WPC) this week in Dublin were told that the European Union (EU) is to prioritise the issue of food security.

The man delivering this message was EU Agriculture Commissioner, Janusz Wojiciechowski, who spoke at the event’s official opening ceremony.

“The war in Ukraine is deeply impacting food-security levels throughout the Middle East and North Africa,” the commissioner said.

“Countries throughout that region depend heavily on imports of grain and oilseeds from the Black Sea area.”

Food security

The commissioner also pointed out that the issue of food security is now a priority for Europe.

“Steps must now be taken to increase food output across the EU.

“I look forward to future discussions with organisations such as the WPC to help identify the ways in which these objectives can be achieved.”

Wojiciechowski stated that the need to enhance food security levels in Europe now outweighed the EU’s previously confirmed commitments to sustainable management practices, where production agriculture is concerned – at least in the short-term.

He thanked the European food industry for maintaining production levels throughout the pandemic.

The commissioner paid particular tribute to the potato sector in this context.

“I fully recognise the importance of the potato to Ireland, both historically and today,” he continued.

“In my own country of Poland, the potato has a similar heritage. Potatoes are fundamentally important to our way of life.”

According to the commissioner, the basic connection between food, peace, and democracy is a founding principle of the European Union.

“As we move forward, this principle must continue to guide us,” he said.

“The current crisis in Ukraine has made it absolutely clear that food security must be a fundamental priority of the European Green Deal.

“For this, the Green Deal must be a good deal for farmers. Because a good deal for farmers is a good deal for society.

“The foundations of our society are rooted in food security. And the foundations of food security rest on the work of our farmers and the health of our environment – our climate, natural resources, and biodiversity.

“To support the foundations of our society, we must therefore support both the environmental requirements and economic realities of food production. In the European Commission, this is the approach we intend to take,” he added.

“In our reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, we are calling on member states to provide strong incentives for environmental and animal welfare actions, and to reinforce the economic and social structures of their farming communities.”