Kossoff on... saving our science

As long as the horticulture industry presents itself exclusively as part of the agriculture sector, the options for R&D and other technology-related funding are restricted.

The recently announced collaboration of East Malling Research and Stockbridge Technology Centre Research Foundation is good news. It creates economies of scale. So, too, is the establishment of this magazine's Save Our Science initiative.

Beyond their core arguments, each is contributing to the wider understanding that horticulture is not just a recipient of new technologies created by others. Most importantly, it is a technology industry in and of itself.

The problem is that those outside the industry conveniently pigeon-hole horticulture in order to suit their own ends. It's much easier to think of brassicas when considering horticulture than to recognise the science and technology that make up the industry's ability to grow those brassicas.

To gain success, the industry has to present itself as a technology leader. Doing so will lead to everything from the appropriate attention up to the necessary funding that the industry requires. This means it is time to change the argument, which is achieved by changing how the industry both sees and presents itself.

Funding is going to cutting-edge technologies in all fields. From chemicals to IT to robotics - all of which are core to horticulture's success - the funding will go to the entities that show their commitment to development of next-generation success.

For the Government, it's easy. It will pay out because, eventually, it wants to get the taxes from the companies' success. It wants jobs now and to rebuild industry for later. So make it easy for yourselves. Change the argument. Make the Government see what you see - and what you are. Then leave Defra behind and go for the big bucks.They're there and there's no reason why they can't be yours.

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