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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Member of Parliament for York Outer

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York’s New Research Centres Are Essential To Feeding Global Population

July 9, 2014

Yesterday in Parliament Julian welcomed the multi-million pound government-backed initiative to make York a major centre for agricultural excellence.

Julian first championed the region’s potential for farming expertise when he was first elected back in 2010. He has since raised the matter in Parliament and met with successive Farming Ministers to discuss his proposals as well as collaborating closely with the Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Speaking in Parliament late last night, Julian raised the growing concerns about the feeding the increasing global population. He said ‘We have only 36 harvests in which to increase our global food production to a level at which it can feed 9 billion people, and just 11 harvests before another billion people need to be fed… What that shows is that we only get one chance a year to advance crop yields, and the number of years is counting down rapidly.’

‘The UK is currently 68% self-sufficient in terms of food that can be produced here. Sadly, there has been a steady decline in that level over the past 20 years. Nearly a quarter of the food that is eaten in the UK is imported, when it could be produced here. Yields have levelled off and cereal, potato, orchard fruit and fresh vegetable production are well below their 1991 levels. The decline is not irreversible, as has been shown in the fresh fruit market, where the growth is driven largely by demand. British shoppers want to buy British produce and back British farmers, especially in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. According to a recent NFU survey, 78% of shoppers believe that supermarkets should sell more British produce.

‘Ultimately, the best way to boost yields, increase production and ensure our future food security is to invest in cutting-edge technology. I am delighted by today’s announcement that the hard work of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding local enterprise partnership has paid off…. We have to be upfront about the fact that it will remain a challenge to feed the growing global population. However, such investment demonstrates the Government’s commitment to meeting that rising challenge.’

York will benefit from three new Government-backed projects to facilitate the provision of cutting-edge agricultural technology. The £11-million investment in the food science campus at Sand Hutton will create 800 new jobs in agri-food research and product testing. The £8-million investment in the BioVale initiative at the university of York will provide a biotechnology cluster that will host a range of high-tech industrial biotechnology companies, creating a further 500 highly-skilled jobs. The £1-million investment in Askham Bryan College, where young farmers learn their craft, will enable a new state-of-the-art training centre and engineering centre of excellence to be constructed.