Government unveils new agri-tech strategy

Plans for a new agri-tech strategy to help farmers improve food security have been unveiled by the government.

Science minister David Willetts said the strategy would take advantage of the UK’s world-class research base to improve global food security while driving economic growth.

It would encourage farmers to adopt new technologies and techniques to meet the global needs of consumers and food producers at a time of rapid population growth and climate change.

The agri-tech strategy will focus on improving farm efficiency while avoiding harm to the environment, said Mr Willetts.

It forms part of an industrial strategy set out by the government last month, and will also complement the Strategy for UK Life Sciences launched in December 2011.

“The UK is home to a world-leading plant, animal and environmental research base, underpinned by excellent universities and institutes,” said Mr Willetts.

“This makes it incredibly well placed to be at the forefront of finding innovative solutions to food security, in the face of a rapidly growing global population.

“This strategy will look at how we can improve the commercialisation of basic science into new technology and techniques.

“This would not only enable countries worldwide to tackle the challenges ahead, but would also contribute significantly to economic growth.”

The government believes the strategy will encourage increased UK exports of products, services and technology.

It claims it will help create a well-networked, highly-skilled and technology-aware agricultural sector with improved access to advice on best practice and new technologies.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is seeking views on the development of the strategy from those with an interest in the agricultural sector.

The government would also like to hear from organisations that feel they have something to contribute to the implementation of such a strategy.

This could be through the demonstration of new techniques and technologies to the farming community or in terms of the take-up of new processes.

For full details, see the official call for evidence.

The call for evidence will be open for six weeks and the strategy is due to be published early 2013.

Johann Tasker on G+

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