£3.6m programme will train next generation of agri-scientists

A £3.6m PhD programme has been launched to train the next generation of agricultural scientists

A £3.6m PhD programme has been launched to train the next generation of agricultural scientists - Credit: Getty Images/View Stock RF

An East Anglian food grower is leading an industry-wide consortium which has secured £3.6m to train young agricultural scientists.

G’s Growers, a major salad and vegetable producer based at Barway, near Ely, led the bid to win a collaborative training partnership (CTP) award to provide postgraduate training in "sustainable agricultural innovation" (SAI).

The programme aims to ensure young scientists are "business aware", opening up opportunities for careers across the industry.

Running from 2022 to 2028, the CTP-SAI will train 30 PhD students and aims to create a network in which businesses can explore and co-design research and innovation programmes.

The ambition is to produce "the next generation of new thinkers, ready to act in the public and private sector to effect positive global change in the food and farming system".

The programme is supported by leading UK and international agri-food businesses, research organisations and charitable organisations.

Emma Garfield, head of research agronomy at G’s Growers, said: “Businesses need access to postgraduates with skills in research and innovation in order to adapt to the enormous challenges that climate change, land use change and biodiversity loss pose.

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"We also need to ensure that the supply chain products and processes pass the test of responsible, sustainable innovation that is core to each businesses value set and corporate social responsibilities.

“This integrated programme, the first of its kind, will ensure that regardless of the future career path CTP students choose, they will have a thorough understanding of how businesses work and how, as scientists, to positively engage in bringing science-led solutions to market."

The programme is funded by UKRI-BBSRC (UK Research and Innovation - Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council).

It was co-developed with NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany) as part of its alliance with the University of Cambridge, the Crop Science Centre, the James Hutton Institute and other UK universities.

Dr Richard Harrison, NIAB’s director of Cambridge crop research, said: "This CTP stretches across the food and farming crop supply chain, bringing together partners to address the joint challenges of reducing emissions, developing resilient farming systems and reversing biodiversity decline."

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