18 December 1998

Vegetable scheme to offer extra info

VEGETABLE growers seeking the latest information from NIAB will need to join a new Vegetable Associate Scheme as of Jan 1.

Main aim of the new organisation is to provide timely, detailed and relevant variety information direct to growers. "Its aim is to produce profits for growers," says Simon Draper, deputy director of NIAB. "The speed of delivery of results and advice will give members a competitive advantage."

For £68 a year, or slightly less for NIAB Association members, VAS members will receive variety handbooks for vegetables, organic vegetables and potatoes six weeks before general release. Four newsletters a year will give the latest trials results, disease information and supermarket views. More up to date information will be available on a members only web site.

"Information has to be timely for growers, and NIAB is very aware of this," says Bob Hilbourn, head of primary agriculture at Sainsbury and a NIAB council member. "The addition of a telephone hot-line is a bonus and brings the scheme alive."

Such technical information is important to help growers meet integrated crop management demands from the vegetable industry, and ultimately consumers, he stresses.

Potato handbooks will still be included in NIAB Association membership, but the VAS handbook will contain extra information, particularly for specialist end use varieties.

"It is essential to include potatoes under VAS as they are a key crop for the retail sector so must be included in any vegetable advice scheme to the grower. They account for 22% of UK consumer spending on vegetables, second only to salads," says Dr Draper. &#42

NIAB VEGETABLE SCHEME

&#8226 Variety handbooks for vegetables, organic vegetables and potatoes.

&#8226 Quarterly newsletter.

&#8226 Members-only internet site.

&#8226 Technical phone hot-line.

&#8226 £68 a year, £62 for NIAB Association members.