University partnership unveils agricultural strategy

Saturday 20th May 2023, 10:00am

A group of UK universities has collaborated on a research strategy to respond to major challenges faced by the agriculture sector.

field of crops, agriculture - credit Roslin Innovation Centre

A strategy outlining steps to boost the impact of agricultural research has been developed by the Agricultural Universities Council (AUC), a partnership of 16 UK universities and other research institutes with agricultural expertise.

The main focus of this plan is on coordinating research, as well as engaging with the UK Government, research institutes and funders, farmers and other stakeholders.

A year in the making, the strategy is the result of an investigation into industry and policy priorities, current research activities, and the sector’s strengths and weaknesses.

Director of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems, Professor Geoff Simm, represents the University of Edinburgh in the Agricultural Universities Council and was involved in the development of the newly announced strategy. This marks the first time that agricultural research institutions have joined up on this scale in response to the pressing needs of reducing negative environmental impacts on biodiversity and climate change, while providing sufficient healthy, nutritious food.

"As the global population increases, and in the face of climate, nature, malnutrition and equity crises, we need urgent changes in food systems and land use, both in the UK and globally. This collaboration has helped us understand how UK universities can help to tackle these challenges locally and globally."

Professor Geoff Simm, Director of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Specific actions outlined in the strategy include engaging with farmers and policymakers to inform agricultural research priorities, coordinating knowledge exchange across research centres, and prioritising support for new researchers’ further development.

"Research and innovation can provide solutions to many of the global challenges we face today. To realise its full potential, we need a research and innovation system that is connected and engaged, allowing us to maximise opportunities for new discoveries and ways to deliver impact. The commitments and actions set out within the AUC Joint Research Strategy reflect these ambitions and are very much welcomed by BBSRC."

Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Chair of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

The project is supported by Centre for Effective Innovation in Agriculture (CEIA) and funded by the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust.

Article source: The Global Academy of Agriculture & Food Systems