A DEDICATED food security unit has been launched to monitor and mitigate potential crises in Scotland.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon is set to lead a Scottish ­Government debate on creating a sustainable food supply this afternoon.

She will outline the new unit which will help experts assess the likelihood of disruption to the supply chain.

It was established after a key ­recommendation from the ­Short-life Food Security and Supply Taskforce following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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The unit will take forward the taskforce’s legacy and will monitor the food system reliance to enable the industry and Scottish ministers to react as quickly as possible to future shocks.

Speaking ahead of the ­parliamentary debate, Gougeon said: “In the recent past we’ve seen several significant events impacting our food and drink sector, including Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and, crucially, the UK Government’s choice to ­pursue a hard Brexit, which took us out of the European Union and the single market.

“On top of this there has been ­further disruption to supply chains resulting from climate volatility, something that we are likely to see more of in the future.

“I want to ensure we are able to ­anticipate and adapt to shocks as much as possible, while we develop policies to try to mitigate them and reduce their likelihood.

“While it is not possible to ­predict all impacts, our new dedicated

Food Security Unit will enable ­better long-term insight into global ­supply chain performance – helping us to improve our responsiveness to potential crises.

“Our farmers and crofters are ­essential to Scotland’s food ­security and I am committed to ­supporting our nation’s producers, in the short term, by maintaining direct ­payments, and in the long term through our new Agriculture Bill and reform programme.”

Commenting ahead of a debate in the Scottish Parliament on ­Securing a Sustainable Food Supply for ­Scotland, Gina Hanrahan, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland said: “High-quality food production is important, but there can be no food security without tackling climate change and protecting nature.

“Just this week we have learned global temperature rises are likely to exceed 1.5C by 2027 [2].

“Scotland’s food production is not immune to the impacts of climate change.

“We risk seeing more crops fail due to drought or flooding. That’s why moving to a more sustainable model is the only way to safeguard future food production.”