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Research is key for sustainable farming
RESEARCH is crucial part of meeting food production challenge, says the National Farmers’ Union.
Talking to Labour politicians NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said there must be more emphasis on research that could be applied directly to farmers’ businesses.
Government and industry must work together to ensure the country’s farmers can meet the challenge of producing more food for a growing population, he said.
He added: “A vital – perhaps the vital – component in delivering affordable food security is how we best make use of research and development.
“Few people now question the need to ramp up production, but questions remain about how we do it, and in particular how we do it while safeguarding the natural environment on which farming relies – what is increasingly termed sustainable intensification.”
Because of a 20-year decline in publicly-funded applied R&D, there must be more emphasis on turning basic research into actual products, technologies and practices that can be used by farmers and growers on a commercial scale, he said. “Government and industry must work together to get this right,” he added.
“In the current economic climate we have to examine the balance of existing public funding for agricultural R&D and at the same time explore new funding models, for example a hybrid of public and private funds coming together.
“Government should retain a strong role in addressing market failure in terms of research, for instance funding for research into minor uses of herbicides – the UK spends less than any other European country in this area.
“We also need to see much better co-ordination between the different bodies involved in setting strategic research priorities, the research community, organisations like AHDB and farmers.”