Sustainable Horticulture: Environment Secretary Announces New Funds
The Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena plans to increase the production of fruits and vegetables domestically, as well as develop high-tech horticulture.
Though it boasts many economic, food security and sustainability benefits, only 10% of English horticulture is glasshouse grown. As a result, the UK fails to provide for itself cucumber-wise, supplying just 25% domestically. The same goes for tomatoes—17%.
Businesses that use glasshouse growing can benefit from extended growing seasons, efficient water usage and higher yields per square metre. By using a glasshouse, businesses can enjoy these benefits while also protecting their crops from bad weather and pests.
In addition to the £70 million+ he has previously invested, Mr Jayawardena has now pledged an additional £12.5 million towards automation and robotics via the Farming Innovation Programme.
The fund will open in January, with UK Research and Innovation. The projects that the fund focuses on will help drive economic growth, food security delivery on environmental commitments.
Mr Jayawardena said: “We all rely on farmers and growers every day to produce high-quality food, and to look after our environment. Technology offers huge opportunities to make farming greener and more productive, so we should harness it to help grow the economy, create jobs and improve food security too.”
The announcement also promised to appoint an industry expert who will work with both the edible and ornamental sectors of Controlled Environment Horticulture. This way, they can provide policy interventions along with a clearer picture of any barriers or opportunities that may exist.
The Environment Secretary is also requesting the opinion of a number of Controlled Environment Growers on how the Government can best help expand their industry while making sure its policies reflect what they need.
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