Labour shortages in Scotland have led to food being thrown away

In Scotland, a shortage of truck drivers and farm workers has forced a huge crop of cabbage to be left in the fields. The farmers’ co-operative East of Scotland Growers (ESG) estimates that they have thrown away 3.5 million broccoli florets and 1.9 million cauliflower florets since the UK left the European Union. In August, it was revealed that UK supermarket shelves had emptied as a result of Brexit. The military had to be brought in to deliver food and medicine.

Producers in Scotland said in a conversation with The Independent that the situation will only get worse by the end of the year. As well as problems finding drivers to deliver crops to freezer warehouses, farmers could not find workers to pick vegetables.

“We were due to start freezing produce over the weekend (September 4 and 5), but due to a shortage of workers we have not been able to freeze anything,” said ESG head Andrew Fachney.

ESG is now 20 per cent short of staff. Fachney fears that many of the remaining workers will leave when they reach their financial targets or if they can’t stand the overwork.

The shortage of frozen and canned foods has already forced retailers to buy vegetables with short shelf lives. Because of this, warehouses are overcrowded and there is nowhere to store frozen produce.

Yougov found in a survey that 56% of 3,500 consumers in the UK felt there was a shortage of goods on supermarket shelves. Scotland was the hardest hit, with 67% of respondents saying they were short of shelves, while 57% of UK respondents said they were unhappy.

Scottish food and farming organisations wrote to the UK and Scottish governments calling for more action to tackle the labour crisis. In the letter they said they had reached “a crisis point that threatens the growth, viability and security of many Scottish businesses”.

In July, the British Road Haulage Association said there was a shortage of around 100,000 truck drivers in the country. Because of this, there is no one to deliver food, essentials and medicines. Food and medicine deliveries have been taken over by military drivers.

Earlier it was reported that from 6 September an experiment to introduce a four-day working week was launched in Scotland. Companies will be paid £10m for participating in the experiment. The authorities have assured that wages will remain at the same level and will not decrease.

Organize your farming operations online. John Deere combine harvesters are our pride

The pandemic has made its adjustments in the work of all spheres of life, including the agricultural sector. Deputy General Director Mukhtar Nurzhigitov and Chief Agronomist of the Holding Alexander Grinets told about how one of the large agricultural farms “Olja Agro” works.

“For two years we have been implementing digital systems in our work, and in the area of planning, and in the area of production, and control of the activities. On the basis of the department of organizational development we write programs. They are the formation of the structure of sowing areas, coordination, approval, control over the execution of the correctness of the work. In the same system we make and approve work plans. All this can be done remotely, not necessarily to gather people and hold meetings. And what is important – it is very relevant in today’s realities. We develop so-called remote mobility in our employees”.

“We have a good program called ‘Agronomist Protocol’; now all the agronomist’s work is displayed there. No journals, no field history books, just one document – the agronomist’s report. Timeliness and quality of agronomic practices are also monitored there. Right on the phone, based on our plans, we get notification of when the agronomist should be in the field, look at it and upon completion of works go to the field and take the quality of the field work. There is also a program to track the sanitary condition of the fields, pests, diseases, weeds. And through this system last year we started to connect “Mobile warehouse”. We have a mobile warehouse of John Deere spare parts for engineers to control the consumption and balances of inventory. Through the system, they have remotely controlled release of drugs from warehouses, coordinated by fields, by nomenclature. Then we also use these mobile programs to track expenditures and write off funds. Virtually all of our work is now online.

In addition, the general information system this year also included control and revision services. That is, today all employees of the holding work in one program, each in his area.

This year, the agribusiness has emphasized not only online work, but also an increase in the area under winter crops. In 2019, 2,000 hectares of winter crops were planted experimentally. This year, the area has increased significantly. Many thanks to the purchase of new powerful tractors to cultivate the land. We got good conditions, and we bought some John Deere tractors. Initially we tested European seed varieties. In 2020 we showed good results, the average yield was 30 quintals per hectare. This is taking into account the fact that spring crops were at 14 centners per hectare. So for winter crops the result was very good.

Deserted Farms and Food Dumps: Will Coronavirus Cause a Food Crisis?

The economic crisis of 2007-2008 caused a rise in food prices and, at the same time, deepened the negative consequences for the agricultural sector. The coronavirus crisis has been compared to that of that time. But WTO experts note that now the market has experienced the influence of new factors – social distancing and closed borders.

Hromadske explains how the coming crisis threatens the food sector, in which countries the consequences are already felt, and whether empty shelves should be feared.

How many products are thrown away due to lack of orders

Customers of agricultural products are not only shops and supermarkets, but also hotels, restaurants, cafes, educational institutions, which are now closed in many countries due to quarantine. Therefore, some of the products that now have no one to buy, manufacturers simply have to throw away.

In the United States, 10 to 14 million liters of milk are poured every day – this is 7% of the total industry. Dairy farms cannot stop production because cows provide milk every day. At the same time, 2020 was supposed to be a year of growth for the American dairy industry – for the first time in 4 years, product prices began to rise.

In Idaho, farmers were forced to dig ditches to “bury” about 500 thousand kilograms of onions. Other states do the same with beans, lettuce and cabbage. Suppliers are forced to crush hundreds of thousands of eggs. Some farmers donate food to charity, but the reception centers do not have enough refrigerators to accept that amount of food.

In India, the beginning of quarantine – March 25 – fell on the economic season: fruits and vegetables ripened, wheat ripened. The country is the world’s second largest supplier of fruits and vegetables and the world’s largest exporter of cereals. At the same time, almost half of the population is involved in agriculture. Markets in the country were not closed, but food is still bought in much smaller quantities.

The banana market also suffered – the unpicked fruits were left to rot, because there are no buyers or transportation routes. And in the province of Satara, cows are fed strawberries or salad – foods that tourists usually buy.

At the same time, the country expects an increase in the harvest by 2.4% this year compared to the previous year. Stocks of wheat and rice are three times higher than what the country needs for its own use – there are now more than 77 tons of grain in storage. Therefore, it will be enough for export. And although at first prices fell, in the future, experts predict their growth and fall in sales by 10-12%. Therefore, this season, due to the lockdown, India will experience a crisis of spices, wheat, melons, bananas and some vegetables – due to a lack of buyers, disruption of transport routes and a lack of workers, products are simply left on the field.