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    Harper Forum report - Rebecca Geraghty of the HGCA

    Posted 15 November 2010

    By Harper Forum Chairman, Sam Bales.

    Rebecca Geraghty, Director of the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) was last week's special guest at the Harper Forum.

    The HGCA is the cereals and oilseeds division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

    Miss Geraghty opened the Forum by explaining how she graduated from Reading University and spent eleven and a half years at the HGCA before becoming Director last June. She discussed the structure of the AHDB and how and where the HGCA fits in, as well as demonstrating the funding received in levy’s and commenting on the 330 staff employed by AHDB as a whole.

    She continued, by discussing how the HGCA operates in the cereal supply chain and how it spends 60% of it's budget on research and development.

    Miss Geraghty outlined a few challenges for the industry as a whole:

    • Increasing market volatility
    • Increasing global competition
    • Impact of climate change
    • Securing supply chain and driving down costs
    • Reduced external funding for research and development
    • ‘Food versus Fuel’
    • Slow recovery of economy

    She continued, by speaking about how the main role of HGCA is to provide independent scientific research, and that currently there are 120 different research projects running.

    The Recommended Lists is the largest research project undertaken annually, costing £1.3m per year and employing six people full time. HGCA also sponsor up to five PhD students each year and give up to five students bursaries.

    There are many different research projects being considered for the next 10yrs, and several of the current projects are being undertaken at Harper Adams. The HGCA website is a hive of freely available information.

    Miss Geraghty continued, by noting that the industry is working in a truly global market, with the last four years seeing incredible volatility. In light of this, the HGCA employ a team of analysis experts who regularly review the markets and publish information.

    The Forum was concluded by discussing some of the 120 business groups and events which the organisation runs each year, some of which are at Harper Adams, along with initiatives such as the Farmhouse Breakfast Week and Grain Chain for school children and teachers.

    Finally, Miss Geraghty closed the discussion by introducing some of the HGCA staff who had studied at Harper Adams, and the positions that they now hold.

    Next week's Forum is by Emma Penny, Editor of the Farmers Guardian.

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