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BUDGET 2011: Support for agri-science vital for innovation and economic growth

23 March 2011

Dr Tina BarsbyLeading crop research centre NIAB has welcomed the strong emphasis of today’s Budget Statement on economic growth, innovation and skills, highlighting the potential for the UK’s agricultural research and life sciences sectors to help rebalance the nation’s economy, and to keep the lid on food price inflation.

Dr Tina Barsby, chief executive of the Cambridge-based institute, said the global challenges of population growth, climate change and spiralling commodity prices had brought a renewed focus on the need to produce more food while impacting less on the environment.

“The Government’s recent Foresight report identified the need to support and encourage the UK’s agricultural research and food science sectors to meet the urgent challenge of global food security,” said Dr Barsby. “We therefore welcome the Chancellor’s clear statement that life sciences and green technology have been identified as key areas for growth in the UK economy, and his announcement that bank levy proceeds will be used to finance £100m of investment in new science facilities.

“In the agri-food sector, an immediate priority is to focus research investment on targeted efforts to boost crop yields and enhance input use efficiency, not only through progress in crop genetics and the development of new farming technologies, but also though more effective extension and deployment of existing knowledge and practices.

“Access to such advances is needed to drive technology-based exports and to support a competitive and efficient agricultural sector as the foundation for growth, jobs and wealth creation within the UK’s £90 billion food supply chain,” she said.

“With expanding crop research capabilities, and unrivalled skills in variety evaluation and applied agronomy, NIAB is uniquely placed to help revitalise the connection between the science base and practical agriculture, and to unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation within our agri-food sector,” said Dr Barsby.