UK hort research under threat

Updated: 06/09/2008

FreshInfo UK, 6 September 2008

Horticultural research and development must find new funding streams urgently or it will disappear.

This was the stark warning from the long-awaited National Horticultural Forum (NHF) report:
“A Review of the Provision of UK Horticultural R&D”, prepared by Dr Brian Jamieson and published last week.

The 92-page report found that mechanisms for funding research in the UK are breaking down and the impact of DEFRA science policies focusing on the environment and climate change, rather than production, are now being felt.

Jamieson argues in the report that a significant gap now exists in funding for the basic and strategic studies on which near-market research, funded through the levy system, builds. He also found that staff retention and succession planning, as well as capital investment and replacement of existing facilities, are all causes for concern.

“The report is quite stark,” Jamieson told freshinfo. “New attitudes need to be developed quickly and partnerships are needed between the institutions and new funders from the industry or regional development agencies. There has got to be a change from a dependency culture to a more entrepreneurial culture.”

The report identifies the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board as an opportunity for R&D in the sector. It also suggests stronger interaction along the fresh produce supply chain through an agri-food innovation platform, under the Technology Strategy Board.

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