I am pleased to be able to tell you that A UK Strategy for Agricultural Technologies was launched in 2013, designed to examine how the UK can meet the challenge of feeding a growing population without damaging the natural environment.
Central to the strategy is using basic research and applied science to allow our farmers to access agri-tech expertise and use innovative techniques. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on agri-food research and development, plus further money to accelerate innovation by UK food and farming businesses. There has also been significant spending on agricultural systems research, which includes agroecology. This has included a range of studies in areas such as agricultural landscapes and systems, soil science and the effects of agriculture on ecosystems and the environment.
Evidence and advice on the issue has been published in the Land Use Policy Group commissioned study The Role of Agroecology in Sustainable Intensification (2015) which reviewed the evidence on issues such as productivity, soils, biodiversity from other European countries (notably France and Germany) and North America.
I was also pleased to learn that the UK is supporting a research partnership with scientists from India. In February 2015 a three-day event held at the Centre for Pollination Studies, University of Calcutta brought together agro-ecologists from our two countries, with the aim of facilitating knowledge exchange and collaborative research. This was the first step towards establishing joint research.
I am reassured that a range of actions is planned that will enable the UK to regain its world-leading role in the race for better, more efficient and more sustainable agricultural production.