A NEW piece of legislation, passed in June to establish in law the Scottish Government’s commitment to Scotland being a Good Food Nation, has been timely. So too was the UK Government’s new Food Strategy, published just before a summer that is seeing record-breaking high temperatures pose big questions about domestic food sustainability, security and affordability in the face of a warming climate.
Whether we can step up as required, and do so fully in the next few years, will determine the degree to which our institutions and enterprises become global leaders in the provision of agri-food innovation that delivers solutions – or merely also-rans.
Scotland already does well when it comes to driving innovations to our domestic markets that can be exported around the world. This success is firmly grounded in the capacity of researchers and enterprises to collaborate on practical projects like the SRUC-led GreenShed Project, which has just received nearly £3 million from the UK Government to develop a state-of-the-art shed that converts methane emissions from cattle into energy to grow crops.
It is technology like this, which can potentially remove the equivalent of 600 tonnes of carbon dioxide per farm per year, while also generating an annual additional income stream of up to £40,000 for farmers, that shows the true potential of innovation in food production. If it wasn’t for the capacity of higher education institutions (HEIs) like SRUC to work closely with businesses in the agricultural sector, GreenShed and projects like it such as vertical farms and data-based dairy solutions, would flounder.
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