Agri-food Resilience Initiative (AFRI) innovation day at Sand Hutton

News | Posted on Friday 6 June 2014

Plans to develop a regional powerhouse in the agriculture-food sector... Scientists from the region’s Universities and the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) met agriculture experts and key business and industrial players to explore how they can work together to consolidate their expertise to strengthen innovation and growth in the agricultural and food (‘agri-food’) sector. The Agri-Food Resilience Initiative (AFRI), a collaboration between Fera and the University’s York Environmental Sustainability Institute (YESI), organised the workshop at the National Agri-food Innovation Campus, York. AFRI is dedicated to ensuring the stability and integrity of agri-food supply chains in the face of the global challenges of climate change, declining natural resources and rapid socio political transformations.

Director of Science at Fera, and Chair of AFRI Phil Newton said “Huge regional strengths in agri-food research, innovation, training, farming and food production provide a clear opportunity for the Yorkshire and Humber region to pave the way for the agri-food agenda nationally.  Working together, the organisations represented at this workshop today have the drive, skills and expertise needed to drive innovation and growth in the sector. And right now, there are opportunities to make this happen”

 Janet Bainbridge, Head of Agricultural Technology at UK Trade and Industry added:

“With new innovative agri-food industry such as the Vivergo bioethanol / animal feed plant and Arla, as well as established household names such as Asda-Walmart, Nestlé and McCain, the region is in a strong position to become the global leader in agri-tech from ‘Farm to Fork’.

 “Fera, the region’s universities, agricultural colleges and many commercial partners are developing a strong strategy to deliver sustainable agri-food resilience encompassing the whole farming spectrum from arable, horticulture, livestock, value from waste and innovative end-user training.”

 YESI’s Director and Deputy Chair of AFRI, Sue Hartley, said: “It is heartening to see the world-class science and technology that we have in our region.  And, it is exciting that our initiative will contribute to seeing innovations directly benefitting farmers as quickly as is possible.”

 Richard Pearson, the National Farmers’ Union Regional Director for the North East welcomed AFRI’s commitment to helping farmers.

 “The challenge for global agriculture is to produce at least 30% more food by 2050. Yorkshire’s farming industry is incredibly diverse, boasting an array of impressive arable, livestock, dairy and horticultural businesses. With the county recognised as one of the powerhouses of the national food and drink sector, their produce is at the heart of our drive for greater food security,” he said.

 “NFU members support a strong innovative science base which will lead to practical methods being developed on-farm to increase food and energy production in a sustainable way.”

 AFRI is part of a broader and shared ambition to galvanise the research capability within the Yorkshire and Humberside region, along with potential regional partners. These include the National Agri-food Innovation Campus, Askham Bryan College, Bishop Burton College, Stockbridge Technology Centre, the National Non-Food Crops Centre, the Biorenewables Development Centre, York Science Park and BioVale.

For further information about AFRI please contact Dr Patrick Bonnett, Fera (; 01904 462746) or Sheila Davitt-Betts, YESI (; 01904 328866).