A new agri-tech strategy will be developed to help UK businesses, including farmers, make best use of new technologies and techniques to meet the needs of consumers and food producers worldwide, at a time of rapid population growth and climate change.
It will focus on improving agricultural efficiency whilst avoiding harm to the environment, and forms part of the Industrial Strategy set out by the Business Secretary last month. It will also complement the Strategy for UK Life Sciences launched in December 2011.
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:
“The UK is home to a world-leading plant, animal and environmental research base, underpinned by excellent universities and institutes. 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.”
Additional objectives of the agri-tech strategy are to deliver:
- Increased UK exports of products, services and technology
- Increased engagement with the business sector including through inward investment, such as to accelerate the translation of research
- A well networked, highly skilled and technology aware agricultural sector with improved access to advice to the farming community on best practice and new technologies
- Sustainable international development.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is seeking views on the development of the strategy from those with an interest in the agricultural sector, including business, farmers, the research community, NGOs and the public. The call for evidence will be open for six weeks and the strategy is due to be published early 2013.
Notes to editors
1. To give your views on the Government’s proposed agri-tech strategy please visit http://www.bis.gov.uk/Consultations/shaping-uk-agri-tech-strategy-call-for-evidence.
2. The strategy is jointly led by BIS and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and is being developed in collaboration with the Department for International Development, the Technology Strategy Board and UK Trade and Investment. It will involve the whole of the UK.
3. BIS would also like to hear from organisations that feel they have something to contribute to the implementation of such a strategy – such as through the demonstration of new techniques and technologies to the farming community or in terms of the take up of new processes. In particular, Government wants to gain better understanding of where there could be potential opportunities for UK businesses.
4. The Foresight project on Global Food and Farming Futures published in 2011 highlighted the overwhelming evidence that whilst the global food system currently delivers for many, it is failing on two fronts: it is consuming the world’s natural resources at an unsustainable rate and failing the world’s poorest, with almost one billion still suffering from hunger. The report can be found here http://www.bis.gov.uk/foresight/our-work/projects/current-projects/global-food-and-farming-futures.
5. The Government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.' It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:
· To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
· To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
· To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
· To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.
Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.
6. BIS's online newsroom contains the latest press notices and speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See http://www.bis.gov.uk/newsroom for more information.