Defra minister calls on growers to "up their game" to meet global food production challenges

Growers must up their game to meet global challenges to food production, a minister told a major conference today to launch a draft strategy report called Feeding the Future.

Defra under secretary Lord de Mauley said: "We want the strategy to support UK economic growth through the development and export of cutting edge science and technology.

"The goal is to improve the competitiveness of UK agriculture and through that technological skills and new crop versions," he told a gathering of 200 delegates at the Royal Society in London.

The draft report, due in its final form in March, makes seven research and innovation recommendations. These include using modern technology to improve precision management practices and developing evidence-based approaches to value ecosystem service delivery.

De Mauley said: "We need to encourage the whole industry to up its game and support rural economic growth based on best practice.

"We are looking to industry groups to help deliver this. We need to address skills of managers, young scientists and a new generation of farmers to give them the ability to make the most of new technology on farms."

Author agriscientist Professor Chris Pollock, who interviewed farmers, said: "The implicit keynote of all this is it's not a washed-up deadbeat academic or politician that delivers this stuff but farmers.

"These are the people who will deliver the impact that we want, so we must structure what we talk about in terms of producer need."

The report follows the Foresight report published last year that highlighted a serious lack of R&D in agriculture.

Visit www.feedingthefuture.info/consultation

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