As the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) begins winding down its activities in the potato and horticultural sectors, there are rising concerns that funding for key high level research will be overlooked.

This fear and concern has come as a result of a lacking clarity from the government over the funding of R&D projects. With Parliament in recess until September, growers now fear there will not be enough time to implement a new body or mechanism to continue such projects.

This concern has sparked the founding of the voluntary Growers’ Better Levy Group (GBLG) which aims to foster a collaborative approach to funding innovation, R&D, and the translation of science into practice.The (currently) 36 independent businesses who comprise the group have initiated discussions with both Defra and the Scottish government to seek support for a managed research agency run by growers.

The idea is to have members from all different relevant crop sectors (tree fruit, soft fruit, potatoes, mushrooms and so on) join with crop associations and research organizations across the UK. With collaboration, they hope to address priority innovation areas.

“The R&D would be directed by an elected, independent board of representative growers who would decide on research priorities and projects, in consultation with the wider industry, including businesses and grower associations.” said Phil Pearson, Glasshouse grower and chair of GBLG.

Archie Gibson of Agrico, a well-known face in the Scottish potato sector who is supportive of the proposals, agreed that backing fundamental research and supporting the country’s world-leading research institutes was important.

Innovation is key to advancing a n industry and creating new growth and opportunities. When members of the industry join up and collaborate, there is often a large spike in innovation, between joined resources and talent.

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