Looking to boost sustainability and progress towards net-zero in agriculture and horticulture, the UK government is making more than £14 million in funding available for two new research and feasibility competitions. The funding is part of a £600 million investment focused on productivity and innovation in the farming sector over the next three years.
The two new competitions are open to research organisations and businesses involved in agriculture, as well as farmers and growers. Previous rounds have led to investment in projects including the use of ultraviolet as a disinfectant in the dairy and poultry sectors.
The funding is split between the Small R&D Partnerships Competition, which is allocated £10 million, and is aimed at helping businesses develop a new farming product or service and then commercialise it. Applications for the Small R&D Partnerships Competition open on 14 August.
A further £4.5 million is available for the Feasibility Studies Competition, which aims to support business and researchers to test whether products and ideas can be successful and if investment is feasible. Successful applicants to previous rounds include a study to identify algal strains that combat insect and fungal pests in wheat crops, which could lead to a reduction in the frequency and cost of applying chemical pesticides. Applications for this competition open on 18 September.
‘These competitions are all about encouraging collaborations between farmers and growers on the one hand, and research organisations and industry on the other, to help bring ideas from the planning stage into practice,’ said Mark Spencer, UK government Farming Minister.
Meanwhile the United Nations Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment (UNFSS+2), which was held in Rome, Italy, 24-26 July, saw delegates from 182 countries, along with 21 world leaders and 125 ministers gather to discuss efforts in steering global action towards sustainable food systems.
The UNFSS+2 closed with a call to action for accelerated food systems transformation. The call focuses on six objectives, including investing in research, data, innovation and technology capacities; and promoting business engagement and accountability for sustainability.
The event was also the platform for the COP28 Presidency and the United Nations Food Systems Coordination Hub to announce a new strategic partnership aimed at elevating the role of food systems as a catalyst for achieving Sustainable Development Goals and the targets of the Paris Agreement.
The partnership will focus on mutually supportive processes relating to food systems transformation and climate action. The partnership is also looking to secure commitments from heads of state and governments attending COP28 to implement actions relating to food systems transformation, agriculture and climate action. The aim is to firmly establish food systems as a prominent item on the climate agenda and within the COP process in the coming years.