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Meeting the global food security challenge

Posted 16 June 2011

Not only are we the UK’s largest supplier of people with higher level skills to the food supply chain industries, but we also conduct research of direct relevance to food production businesses – from agriculture to major retailers."

Dr David Llewellyn

Dr David Llewellyn

UNIVERSITIES WEEK 2011: Big Ideas for the Future

An article by Harper Adams Principal Dr David Llewellyn

Providing enough food to meet future demand, by delivering food security,  is one of the greatest global challenges that we face.  With a growing world population, expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, together with changing dietary patterns in rapidly developing economies, new patterns of land use and the impact of climate change, there will be a need for new scientific and technological approaches to be brought to bear in all aspects of the food chain.  We must also ensure that this is achieved without detrimental impact on the soil, water and other natural resources that we need to maintain for the benefit of future generations.

Whilst food security might be considered, by some, to be a somewhat remote set of concerns, recent climatic conditions in the east of England, the widespread public health and economic impacts of the e.coli outbreak in Germany, volatility in commodity prices and high rates of food price inflation and an anticipated increase in the UK population from 60.6 million in 2006 to 70 million by 2031 demonstrate that the food security debate will have a real impact closer to home.  The UK higher education sector, working with international partners and industry, is already working to ensure that it can help provide solutions to the need to double food global production by 2030 whilst maintaining an economically efficient , safe and sustainable food production system.

Harper Adams will have an essential role to play.  Not only are we the UK’s largest supplier of people with higher level skills to the food supply chain industries, but we also conduct research of direct relevance to food production businesses – from agriculture to major retailers.  We remain deeply committed to ensuring that our work in agricultural production supports the farming sector, but we also have systems expertise in agricultural engineering, rural land and environmental management, food product development, food safety and even renewable energy production from farm and food wastes that enables us to work right across the food chain, and to rapidly translate our research and skills development programmes to industry.  As the UK’s food chain university, we are therefore at the heart of addressing the global food security challenge.

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