HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis-Machin said he hopes the delayed Ornamental & Landscape Horticulture Strategy is a broad document about horticulture's benefits. He said AHDB Horticulture has its own Government agenda and remit while HIP is "supposed to be independent".
He added that HIP is a "good idea - it just needs the industry to get behind it". Curtis-Machin said a "lot of politics is going on" but he will complete the redrafted strategy with the help of Alastair Griffiths at the RHS and Ross Cameron at the University of Sheffield.
"Grower-focused organisations don't see beyond production but production is only the start," he said. "A plant might have 250 years in the ground." The value of that plant for the environment is wide and includes flood management, tourism and air pollution mitigation, he explained.
The strategy was redrafted so as to not overlap with the Ornamental Round Table Action Plan, a set of requests of Government launched by a group of industry bodies in May. HIP was formed in 2013 to identify the technological and commercial barriers that may prevent business development.
AHDB Horticulture development board business head Steve Tones has sent a questionnaire on HIP's future to about 100 industry stakeholders and has called for those who have not responded so far to get in touch as soon as possible to give feedback on the initiative, which he suggested might end up with AHDB Horticulture. The HIP strategy has aims including:
- Improving people's health and well-being.
- Effective delivery of environmental services.
- Biosecurity and promoting biodiversity by improving plant-health strategies and increasing biodiversity to minimise disease spread, and nursery management methods to prevent pests causing issues.
- Supporting the economy by improving productivity and profitability in ornamentals by increasing yields but not costs, reducing transport costs and shrinkage and improving growers' business skills.
- Social cohesion and social capital with culture, leisure, sports and tourism, civic pride and crime reduction cited as benefits of horticulture in an era of green-space degradation.
Industry contributors to the draft strategy are the HTA, RHS, Landscape Institute, University of Sheffield, British Protected Ornamentals Association (NFU), Association of Professional Landscapers, Winchester Growers, Lowaters Nursery, Dove Associates and the AHDB Horticulture development board. HIP will go to the Government in late March 2016.