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£160m plan to make UK farming leader
AN AGRI-TECH strategy worth £160m aims to make the UK a world leader in agricultural science and technology.
The Government said it will develop technologies and take innovative products such as cancer-fighting broccoli from the field to the shopping aisle.
Industry is also expected to invest heavily in the strategy which aims to transform UK farming by using the latest technologies to ensure it is as productive as possible, while reducing its impact on the environment and resources.
Worldwide demand for food is rising rapidly and the aim is to make the UK a world leader in addressing global food security issues.
The entire UK agri-food supply chain, from agriculture to retailing and catering, is already estimated to contribute £96bn to the economy and employ 3.8 million people.
David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister, said: “We have a world-class science and research community and our institutes and universities are at the forefront of agricultural research.
“This strategy sets out how we can ensure that we turn our worldbeating agricultural science and research into world-beating products and services.”
Lord de Mauley, Defra Minister for Science, said: “We face a global challenge to feed the rapidly increasing population in a way which is affordable and sustainable.
“We are investing in technologies that will enable British farmers to meet these challenges and take advantage of the growing demand in export markets for British food.”
The strategy includes:
- A £90m government investment in world-class centres for agricultural innovation with additional investment from industry. They will support the adoption of innovation, technologies and skills in the food and farming supply chain;
- A £70m agri-tech catalyst will help new agricultural technologies bridge the so-called “valley of death” between the lab and the marketplace. It will specifically support small and medium-sized enterprises;
- An industry leadership council drawn from all parts of the sector will unite the agriculture technology sector and make the UK more internationally competitive;
- A new UK Trade and Industry agri-tech team will boost exports and overseas investment in the UK’s agricultural technologies.
The Government also announced an extra £30m for four agri-science research and innovation campuses and a multi-million pound scientific research partnership between Rothamsted and Syngenta to increase wheat productivity.
Peter Kendall, NFU president, said: “Skills and training for farmers are absolutely critical so that knowledge generated through agriscience can be adopted at a commercial scale.
“Showing agriculture as an innovative, rewarding and business-focused sector will make it a career of choice for the next generation of farmers, advisers, engineers, vets and scientists.”
Harry Cotterell, president of the Country Land and Business Association, said: “UK agriculture has been built on innovation and enterprise, and we anticipate this strategy will reinforce the sector’s position as a dynamic industry, providing growth in the UK economy.”