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HAPI: Background

Introduction

A rising global population combined with climate change and pressure on vital resources threaten global food security and an urgent response is needed. Delivering global food security means providing a sustainable, secure supply of good quality food from less land and with more efficient use of inputs. Food security is a key strategic priority for BBSRC and we are contributors to Global Food Security, a partnership bringing together the food related research interests of the relevant Research Councils, government departments, devolved governments and executive agencies.

The edible horticulture and potato sector is an important component of the food security equation in the UK, is consumer-led and has a strong record of adopting innovation. It provides 60% of all vegetables consumed in this country and 95% of all potatoes (excluding processed frozen products), but only 10% of the fruit it consumes. The horticulture and potato supply chains face the need to enhance their competitiveness and resilience which link to considerable challenges in terms of increasing production, reducing waste and improving sustainability. Through consultation with industry and related stakeholders from the sector, we have identified opportunities where targeted research support could help to address these challenges.

In line with our Business Interaction Strategy, we launched HAPI to support collaborative research projects in this area. The aim of the initiative is to support excellent quality, industrially-relevant research and to help foster productive networks and knowledge exchange between the research base and industry.

HAPI previously awarded £3M to support 4 research projects spread across its remit through the first call for proposals. There is approximately £4M to be awarded through a second call for proposals.

Aims

  • To support high quality, innovative, strategic research within UK universities and institutes to underpin the development of improved potato and edible horticulture crop production systems that sustainably deliver increased productivity and consistent, high quality food products
  • To strengthen the academic research community and encourage collaborations which will move research closer to application in the areas of crop breeding, production and processing for food crops through interdisciplinary research and the provision of training
  • To ensure the exchange of knowledge between the science base and industry through the support of effective networking between academic groups and companies

Research challenges

In-depth discussion with the horticulture and potato industries has identified a number of research areas that are important to companies across this sector. Further details of the research challenges can be found in the call text (see downloads section).

Central to the research challenges identified by industry are two broad and inter-related issues. Firstly, a sustainable increase in the productivity of crop production systems is required in order to meet the rising demand for food from a growing global population. Climate change predictions suggest the UK and other Northern European countries are likely to have an opportunity to become more important global food producers whilst other traditional food producing regions may become too hot or dry for large-scale field production. Research is vital for the industry to adapt to these changing pressures and demands.

Secondly, crop production practices need to adapt to changes in our climate. This means adapting to changing growing seasons, reduced water availability, increased weather extremes, changing pest and disease pressures and increasing fuel costs whilst also reducing the industry's emissions of greenhouse gases by improving the efficiency of resource use.

The research challenges identified in consultation with industry are as follows:

  • Changing seasons
  • Crop maturity and spoilage
  • Soil
  • Pests and pathogens
  • Seed quality and vigour
  • Resource use efficiency

Previous workshops

Consortia-building workshop (second call) – 20 January 2014

Presentations and other documents from the workshop are available below:


Consortia-building workshop - 28 February 2012

To help develop successful project ideas we held a workshop in February to bring together interested companies and researchers.

Presentations and other documents from the workshop are available below:


Discussion workshop - 20 October 2011

As part of our discussions with industry, we recently hosted a workshop to discuss:

  • the research needs of the horticulture and potato sector
  • potential funding models for supporting collaborative research between industry and academia

Presentations from the workshop and a report of the discussion are available below:


Contact

Faith Smith, HAPI Manager

tel: 01793 442802

Charlotte Bell

tel: 01793 413343