East Malling strategy sets out how to boost Kent's UK food hub role

A report launched at East Malling Research (EMR) last week has set out a strategy to bolster Kent's role as "the food hub of the UK".

The first annual report of Rural PLC (Kent) speaks of "the outstanding growth potential and the opportunities for increasing national and international investment in both shortand long-term projects" in the county's food and farming sector.

But chairman of Rural PLC (Kent) and county high sheriff Mike Bax insisted that first the balance of power in the sector would have to change.

"Currently, the downstream end exerts far more influence and is better invested than the upstream end represented by the producer," he said. "This is not consistent with other industry sectors and we need to turn this round."

Access to funding is identified as a requirement for future investment in the sector, so the report proposes setting up a "food investment bank" and other financial innovations as an alternative to grant funding.

"There is a hunger for investment in infrastructure, facilities and marketing but this is often beyond reach at farmer level," Bax added.

The report valued the county's land-based sector at £5.4bn, larger than Marks & Spencer's £5.1bn.

Launched last year, Rural PLC aims to "create a voice and a platform for Kent's food and farming sectors, which have both the strength and the scale to deliver more in economic and social terms" as well as encouraging more people to choose a career in the sector and supporting education and training.

In addition to Bax, its board includes EMR chief executive Professor Peter Gregory, Hadlow College finance and resources director Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, and former NFU Kent chairman Charles Tassell.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

What should growers make of the Government's migration report?

What should growers make of the Government's migration report?

By holding out the "possibility" of a seasonal agricultural workers scheme (SAWS), the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) long-awaited final report, published this week, makes an exception for fresh produce amid its wider call for a shift away from low-skill immigration.

Tractors: market roundup

Tractors: market roundup

Manufacturers are working to provide solutions to many challenges. Sally Drury looks at their newest models.

What does the Agriculture Bill mean for growers?

What does the Agriculture Bill mean for growers?

The publication of the Agriculture Bill this week formally kick-starts the Government's plans to implement a "green Brexit" for farming, the area of the economy most impacted by the UK's withdrawal from the EU from next March.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive RANKING of UK Fruit Producers by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon