Helping shape the future of UK farming

"IF 2016 has been a reminder of anything, it is that change is the one thing you can depend on.
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AHDB is changing to ensure we address key challenges, offer best support to farmers, growers and processors, and continue to maximise value for money from the levy we are entrusted with.
A year ago, we reviewed our activities through a series of meetings across Scotland asking people what they thought of AHDB, what our priorities should be and how we could best provide tools that would be useful for their businesses. The responses we got were a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly.
All that information has helped to inform our new three-year strategy launched this month. We are ambitious for the industry and want to make a bigger difference in inspiring businesses to success in a rapidly changing world.
Our vision is to create a world class food and farming industry inspired by, and competing with, the best. We need to work in collaboration with industry and work smarter to focus on those activities and tools that have a real and direct impact on farm or in the supply chain.
We have four priorities. The first is to inspire British farming and growing to be more competitive and resilient. Part of this is about comparing our agricultural performance against the best, especially elsewhere in Europe. We operate in competitive markets, including our domestic UK market. We can’t insulate ourselves from global and European competition, so we need to measure the performance of UK producers to understand where we do well, where we do less well and what producers in the UK and Scotland can do to improve performance.
Countries such as Russia, America and Germany are prolific growers of crops like wheat and barley, and while they might have very different growing conditions to Scotland, there is still much we can learn through in depth comparison.
We will also focus our attention across the supply chain to ensure farmers have a better understanding of the needs of their immediate customers. For example in the malting barley sector, we will support Scottish growers to become more sensitive to the needs of distillers.
Our second priority is to accelerate innovation and productivity growth through co-ordinated R and D and Knowledge Exchange. This is absolutely pivotal. UK agricultural productivity growth is considerably slower than many of our key competitors. If we don’t do something to address this we will lose ground to them, something we cannot afford to do.
Drilling into the reasons, we know that having an effective innovation system and harnessing skills are vital to improving productivity on farm. So our strategy sees AHDB move from being merely a funder of research to being an influencer of other funders to ensure we are all maximising investment in R and D to benefit British farmers and growers.
We will continue to work with research institutes across the UK to develop our understanding of key areas such as health, productivity and new technologies. In the potato sector we have a particularly strong relationship with the James Hutton Institute where we are funding a number of projects on blight, PCN and soil management. We will maintain and strengthen that link as well as those we have with other Scottish institutions such as SRUC and the University of Edinburgh.
Some of these institutes have recently partnered with businesses to form the new AgriTech Innovation Centres which aim to revolutionise farming practices in the UK. We want to reposition AHDB as the knowledge exchange organisation. This will see us working even more closely with organisations like SRUC and private sector agronomists to better co-ordinate our work.
We will also invest in more farmer to farmer projects like our Strategic Spot Farm Scotland, and our monitor farm programme which we run jointly with QMS in Scotland.
Helping the industry understand and deliver what consumers will trust and buy is our third priority. We will look to do this in a number of ways including analysis into consumer preferences and providing independent information and evidence to industry.
Another key area for Scotland will be exports. We already have a thriving export sector for seed potatoes, however we are now be working to not only open new markets, but to ensure we increase trade to existing markets. An example is Kenya, where our work with Scottish Government has opened up a market for seed exports worth £50m.
Expanding our efforts in the dairy sector will also be brought to the fore, there is much more we can do to market our dairy products abroad. We’ll be working closely with organisations like Dairy UK and individual processors to target markets such as Canada, the USA and China which is a massive market opportunity for both for product and inward investment.
Finally, we will aim to deliver thought leadership and horizon scanning. This will involve identifying solutions to major challenges that face our sectors. Brexit of course is one such challenge and we are already engaging with both Westminster and Holyrood to explain the potential opportunities and threats of leaving the EU.
Another growing concern is volatility – farmers are faced with hugely varying input costs, and the price they can expect for their produce also fluctuates significantly. I don’t think any other industry has to cope with such volatility.
The strategy is now out for consultation until January 9, 2017, so give us feedback and help shape the future of farming in the UK.»
Source: TheSocttishFarmer

Mirá También

Así lo expresó Domingo Possetto, secretario de la seccional Rafaela, quien además, afirmó que a los productores «habitualmente los ignoran los gobiernos». Además, reconoció la labor de los empresarios de las firmas locales y aseguró que están «esperanzados» con la negociación entre SanCor y Adecoagro.

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