16 October 1998

Charles offers his sympathy

PRINCE Charles believes agriculture has lost its soul.

Opening Aberdeen Universitys new Centre for Organic Agriculture – the first of its kind in Britain – the prince spoke of his sympathy for Britains small farmers and rural communities struggling to survive.

Organic farming was, he believed, the way to put the soul back in the industry. "We have treated the land and animals as machines. Hopefully, we will learn from our mistakes before it becomes too late," he said.

Demand for organic produce, at an all-time high, was a consequence of concerns about "modern scientific farming". Conversion from conventional agriculture offered real opportunities to farmers at a time when "other avenues are becoming unprofitable", he said.

The university organic centre aims to help satisfy the ever increasing demand for organic products throughout Europe and to develop organic production in the UK. Tesco, whose customers spend £40m a year on organic food, has pledged £250,000 to support the centre over the next four years. Other funding, worth some £5.25m, has been secured.

from MAFF, the EU, growers and the service industry.