July News Bulletin from BGA

by James Hallett

Welcome to our July newsletter. We propose to publish this regularly now as a means of keeping member organisations, and members themselves, up to date and informed of issues effecting Horticulture in the UK. We hope that you find this useful, and please be in touch with any further questions, ideas or concerns.


The MAC report is now published and submitted to Government ministers. Broadly the report has been well received, and clearly demonstrates the very positive contribution the SAWS workers make to the industry and wider economy.

In continuation of our work with the MAC members and secretariat, British Growers Association is now lobbying a wide range of parliamentarians. It is essential that the opportunities available to UK growers of fresh produce are not missed through lack of labour availability. We have additionally completed a number of TV and Radio interviews around the country. It has been very interesting to note the support and clear understanding that both media and politicians have of this industry issue.

We believe that a decision by Home Office ministers on the extension of SAWS is imminent. If you employ SAWS workers and haven’t yet written to you constituency MP, please do so. British Growers can provide useful facts and figures, as well as MPs contact details.
Agri-Tech Strategy

In common with the wider industrial strategy, Defra and Dept for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS), are working on a strategy for primary food production, to be published in the summer. This will focus on the scientific research and development, and the technology advances, required to sustainably feed a growing population, with dwindling input resources. In addition the strategy is looking to support the development of exportable technologies.

Since the UK Horticultural sector accounts for over 22% of total primary food production sales (3.7bn), it is vital that our industry gets its fair share of current and future public funding for research, development and translation. Calculated on a straightforward basis this would amount to £90m investment in advancing the efficiency of fresh produce growing in the UK.

British Growers Association, along with other industry collaborators such as the Horticulture Innovation Partnership, are working with BIS & Defra officials and the Agri Tech leadership Council. We must ensure that a fair share of funding is directed towards improving the resilience and profitability of UK Horticulture.

Careers, Recruitment, Training and Development

In these times of austerity and low economic growth, there is clearly great focus on the creation of new employment opportunities. Our industry can continue its growth through import replacement, season extensions and technical developments.

This will undoubtedly result in a growing need for a continuous pipeline of recruits, trainees and workers to be choosing Horticulture for their career.

Brightcrop is an initiative launching in June 2013, to promote careers in primary food production, including Horticulture, into schools. This aims to reach 14-16 year olds, as well as their teachers and patents, demonstrating the wide-ranging scientific, engineering, technology and IT needs of the industry. The scheme will offer web based information and case studies, as well as utilizing STEMnet ambassadors in schools to deliver information. British Growers are co-ordinating a number of the case study pieces for this collaboration.

Summer school – once we’ve created an interest in the sector it’s important to nurture that talent from an early age. Nottingham University are running their 2nd Summer School in Plants and Crops this year. This takes place on the Sutton Bonnington campus between 3rd and 5th July, alongside a long established Food Sciences summer school. This aims to give hands-on, engaging experience of academic and commercial plant science and crop agronomy to enthusiastic Year 11 GCSE students. Sponsorship (£350/student) is sought to cover all costs for students to attend. This is potentially a great opportunity to find your next fieldsman/woman, agronomist, plant pathologist or plant breeder!
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/biosciences/summerschools/ Contact Susannah Lydon

Edge Apprenticeships – this scheme will help young people develop successful careers and ensure agriculture has the skills it needs for the future. EDGE Apprenticeships in Food & Farming will raise the level of training for young people across a wide range of agricultural careers, creating the next generation of highly-skilled staff. The scheme is the culmination of work by a number leading organisations to Educate, Develop, Grow and Employ (EDGE) young people in agriculture and horticulture. It is industry-led and is a collaborative venture between agricultural purchasing organisations Anglia Farmers and AtlasFram Group, in conjunction with Easton and Otley College, New Anglia LEP and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils. The programme has received co-investment of just over £1.4 million from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) through the Growth and Innovation Fund.
The aim is to open up the concept nationally in 2014/15, once the model is proven.
http://www.edgeapprenticeships.org/ Contact Richard Self

British Growers Association are working with Lantra to ensure that the outcome of the forth coming review of Production Horticulture apprenticeship content is fit for purpose and applicable. A consultation will open very soon to allow responses from all interested parties. This will need submissions to be returned by mid-August 2014.

Advanced Training Partnerships – the Agri Food and Food ATPs both have great relevance for growing and businesses in UK Horticulture. Based at Nottingham and Reading universities respectively, these are targeted to provide an in-depth range of post graduate level training and advancement for established industry operators. Funding is substantial and some 100% bursaries are available for modules. There are opportunities to gain MSc level qualifications, but this is not obligatory – learning practical knowledge from the training is key. Equally it is possible to take modules from both ATPs – this is especially useful in a vertically integrated industry such as production horticulture.
www.foodatp.co.uk Contact Libby Good
www.agrifoodatp.ac.uk Contact Deborah Kendale