Tag Archives: AHDB

Growers launch campaign for voluntary AHDB levy

Following their calls for growers to get involved in the consultation on the future of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, a group of growers has launched a campaign calling for the AHDB levy to be optional.

The review closed on 9th November, but a spokesman for the group said, “Due to a lack of effort by the AHDB, there was a lack of knowledge about the review amongst growers. AHDB are keen to contact growers when it suits them; however, they are less keen to write to the levy payers informing them about a fundamental review. The NFU could also have been more proactive in informing growers about the importance of the review.”

He said that telephoning local growers showed that “hardly any levy payers knew of the AHDB levy review,” a situation which was common across a range of business including flower growers, large area vegetable producers and potato growers. Following discussions, a number of growers have come together to lobby for a voluntary levy, which was one of the options proposed in the review.

“90 per cent of the growers we have contacted have agreed that the levy should be voluntary,” continued the spokesman. “This would mean that if your business doesn’t benefit you would not have to pay. Currently the levy is a statutory one and when growers are unable to pay, they are threatened with court action and bailiffs are sent in. The levy of support we have had demonstrates how unpopular and costly the AHDB is and the poor value for money that it gives the growers whose money they collect.”

The group is also unhappy with the strategic direction and AHDB’s ambitions to increase growers’ efficiency. “The AHDB Strategy for the Future suggests that they don’t realise the cutting-edge production that is already in place,” said the spokesman. “Economics dictate the margins that both large and small growers receive, as you have hundreds of growers selling to a few nationwide retailers and processors who are in an unremitting battle with each other. Despite their technical abilities, investing huge amounts of money into their businesses does not guarantee success for growers and margins are continually eroded – undermining everything we are trying to do to protect our businesses and to inspire the next generation.”

He also pointed out that due to the nature of commercial horticulture, many businesses commission their own research in order to gain a competitive advantage, and that AHDB’s knowledge transfer activities work against this. “Over the next few years in order to cope with the results of Brexit, it is crucial that businesses are sustainable, lean and flexible and have contingency in their budgets. This means not having to pay a statutory levy to AHDB and we hope that other growers, particularly those who were in the dark about the review, will respond to our petition with a resounding ‘yes,’ by e-mailing us at; AHDBpetition@gmail.com.”

New AHDB Board Member and Horticulture Chair, Hayley Campbell-Gibbons said that there had been a “healthy level of response, especially from growers” to the government’s open review of AHDB, adding; “It’ll be interesting to see how many growers favour a voluntary levy over a statutory one. A voluntary levy would certainly focus the mind, although it could create a short-term culture and mind-set in what is a long-term industry.”

Campbell-Gibbons said she wanted to understand what growers value about AHDB, but also reflect on the things that might require new focus or which need to stop or change. “It’s no secret that there are a range of views on AHDB’s role and performance, and speaking to those who get involved with AHDB, it delivers enormous benefits,” she added. “But, perception is reality, and AHDB perhaps can be bolder in communicating the benefits and spreading the word. However, even in the few weeks I’ve been involved with the organisation, I can tell you there is no complacency.

“In my role as a board member and chair I want to ensure that everything AHDB does and communicates addresses the ‘So what?’ factor. From AHDB’s EAMU work on plant protection authorisations, to our flagship SCEPTREplus programme, our strategic farms and the exciting new work on labour as part of our SmartHort campaign, we need to show growers that they are getting bang for their buck.”

She acknowledged that AHDB needs to keep pace with the rate and scale of change in the industry, something that she believes makes AHDB’s role in “accelerating the development and adoption of new research and technology” more important than ever before in order to “give British horticulture a competitive edge.”

Campbell-Gibbons concluded that she didn’t want the industry to see the closing of the review as the end of the conversation on AHDB’s work, telling growers: “It’s your levy body and as your AHDB representative the more you communicate with me, and vice versa, the more we’ll both benefit. Over the coming months I will be considering and acting on the responses, and be out and about to hear your views and share our forward plans. I look forward to working with you.” The post Growers launch campaign for voluntary AHDB levy appeared first on Hort News.

NEPG predicts increased plantings for 2018

The NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) organisation estimates an increase of 0.4 per cent in the planted area of its member countries compared to 2017.

In a release NEPG said that potato stocks remain high, but late planting due to adverse weather and the subsequent later arrival of early 2018 crops were expected to extend the season for last year’s crop. The group also expects to see a convergence of the market in terms of price and quality, with best samples increasing in value.

By the first week of May, continental planting had almost been completed, while around half of the UK area still had to be put into the ground. France, Belgium and Germany have planted more area, while in the Netherlands the area reduced by 2.5 per cent. Great Britain has no estimation available at the moment so the 5 years average has been used to calculate the area planted. In total 0.4 per cent more than last year, and 6.7 per cent more compared to the five-year average, has been planted. NEPG warned that this increase was not in line with the growing demand from the processing industry, and that a 4 per cent reduction in yields from the five-year average is also expected.

AHDB Potatoes pointed out that the NEPG estimates do not include data related to seed potatoes or potatoes for starch production.

Photo Caption: NEPG are forecasting a 0.4 per cent increase in potato planting this year

Photo Credit: Grimme

The post NEPG predicts increased plantings for 2018 appeared first on Hort News on 10 July 2018.

AHDB calls for studentship proposals

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is inviting applications for a slice of £1 million in funding for postgraduate studentships.

A call for proposals for up to 15 PhDs has been issued to UK universities, colleges and research institutes as part of work to develop a new tranche of agricultural and horticultural scientific expertise. The funding supplied by AHDB equates to £70,500 per studentship, which can be split over three or four years, and this is the first time that studentships in every AHDB sector have received the same level of funding.

Applicants must detail how the proposed research will help meet the priorities of one or more of the six levy sectors – Beef & Lamb, Cereals & Oilseeds, Dairy, Horticulture, Pork and Potatoes. They must also demonstrate how projects will deliver useful and relevant research outcomes.

AHDB’s Kim Matthews, who chairs the studentship programme, said, “Once again we are seeking the best and brightest of the UK’s scientific talent to bring innovative research ideas to the table. We want to see practical, applied scientific solutions to the challenges facing industry, whether affecting one particular sector or with applications across the piece.”

Photo Credit: AHDB

The post AHDB calls for studentship proposals appeared first on Hort News on 15 July 2016.

UK research institutes collaborate on crop rotation

AHDB’s Potatoes and Horticulture sectors have teamed up with AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds to fund four new projects looking at the overall effects of soil health throughout crop rotation.

In total £1.2 million has been awarded to the interrelated projects will form a five-year programme of research to help farmers and agronomists optimise soil and water management decisions and plan environmentally and economically beneficial rotations.

Dr Mike Storey, AHDB Head of Resource Management, said,“There has been a lot of work on the impact of soil conditions, cultivations and management on individual crop performance but we believe this new programme is unique in its scale and ambition. This research will generate new data and knowledge to answer challenges across whole rotations and provide information and tools to allow farm businesses to make rewarding and sustainable rotational decisions.”

The partnership is led by NIAB CUF, with Rothamsted Research, the James Hutton Institute and Lancaster University, but includes 14 other organisations including Aarhus University, Vegetable Consultancy Services, Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Organisation, Grimme (UK), Kettle Produce, Greenvale AP and Frederick Hiam.

Photo Caption: Dr Mike Storey

Photo Credit: AHDB

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New AHDB board members

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has appointed five new members to its specialist sector boards, including Dr Louise Sutherland who joins the Horticulture Sector Board and Reuben Collins for the Potato Sector Board.

All the new members were recruited through open competition with selection made on merit. All five members began a three-year term in office effective from 1 April 2016. Tom Hind, Chief Strategy Officer of AHDB, commented, “These new members have a wealth of experience in their relevant sectors as well as a passion for the industry that is crucial to these roles. We look forward to them making a valuable contribution to the organisation.”

Dr Louise Sutherland brings more than 25 years of experience in the fresh produce and soft fruit sectors including stints at Marks and Spencer, and a PhD in plant pathology. She is also Chair of the Red Tractor Fresh Produce Scheme and a member of the Assured Food Standards Board. She currently chairs the Raspberry Breeding Consortium which is part funded by AHDB Horticulture.

Reuben Collins is a farmer in a family farming partnership which rears beef and grows potatoes and cereals in Cornwall. After studying agriculture at Duchy College, Reuben worked in the Eastern counties with potatoes, onions and cereals followed by farming early potatoes in Cornwall.

Photo Credit: AHDB

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£150K potato storage fellowship cultivates cutting edge fruit research

Dr Richard Colgan, of the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) is to build on crop storage work from the horticultural sector in one of three AHDB Potatoes awarded fellowships.

Using apparatus and expertise from the fruit sector, the three year programme will investigate the effects of mineral nutrition on the storage behaviour of tubers. Specifically, the work will examine resistance to senescent and low temperature sweetening, alongside the impact of respiration and diffusion characteristics on the long-term storage potential of tubers.

Assisting Dr Colgan in the project will be Cláudia Gonçalves da Silva Carvalho. She will initially undertake short placements within industry before commencing an 18 month postdoctoral position in the second half of the Fellowship.

Commenting on the project, Adrian Cunnington, head of the Sutton Bridge storage facility, said, “Potatoes coming out of storage have to meet specific customer quality levels or else be threatened with rejection. Having the ability to identify and assess threats and predict what happens next in storage helps growers to make the right choices to keep tuber quality consistent; and this project will bring forward the ability to make those decisions.”

Photo Credit: University of Greenwich

The post £150K potato storage fellowship cultivates cutting edge fruit research appeared first on Hort News on 10 Feb 2016.