By Daniel Hunter

A new strategy that will take advantage of the UK’s world class research base to improve global food security, whilst driving economic growth, has been kick started by the Government.

A new agri-tech strategy will be developed to help UK businesses, including farmers, make best use of new technologies and techniques to meet the needs of consumers and food producers worldwide, at a time of rapid population growth and climate change.

It will focus on improving agricultural efficiency whilst avoiding harm to the environment, and forms part of the Industrial Strategy set out by the Business Secretary last month. It will also complement the Strategy for UK Life Sciences launched in December 2011.

“The UK is home to a world-leading plant, animal and environmental research base, underpinned by excellent universities and institutes," Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said.

"This makes it incredibly well placed to be at the forefront of finding innovative solutions to food security, in the face of a rapidly growing global population.

“This strategy will look at how we can improve the commercialisation of basic science into new technology and techniques. This would not only enable countries worldwide to tackle the challenges ahead, but would also contribute significantly to economic growth.”

Additional objectives of the agri-tech strategy are to deliver:

- Increased UK exports of products, services and technology
- Increased engagement with the business sector including through inward investment, such as to accelerate the translation of research
- A well networked, highly skilled and technology aware agricultural sector with improved access to advice to the farming community on best practice and new technologies
- Sustainable international development.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is seeking views on the development of the strategy from those with an interest in the agricultural sector, including business, farmers, the research community, NGOs and the public. The call for evidence will be open for six weeks and the strategy is due to be published early 2013.

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