Improved knowledge exchange focus

Upping the pace and scale of knowledge exchange, improved supply chain understanding and a better grasp of international competitors’ costs are some of the key priorities in AHDB Cereals &

Upping the pace and scale of knowledge exchange, improved supply chain understanding and a better grasp of international competitors’ costs are some of the key priorities in AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds’ new three year Strategy.

The vision of AHDB’s new ‘Inspiring Success’ corporate strategy is ‘creating a world-class food and farming industry’. It has also redefined AHDB’s purpose as ‘inspiring farmers, growers and the industry to succeed in a rapidly changing world’.

The 2017-2020 Cereals & Oilseeds Strategy, which is now out for a six week consultation with the industry, is a response to the specific longer term challenges facing the sector.  It focuses on five areas:

  • Delivering a step change in driving productivity through a greatly enhanced knowledge exchange programme
  • Ramping-up information available to growers on soils, break crops, animal feed needs with a spotlight on rotations in the light of diminishing access to chemical pest and disease control
  • Focusing on whole supply chains to improve their efficiency for the benefit of levy payers, with a particular spotlight on feed chains
  • Identifying and providing access to alternative export markets post Brexit
  • Ensuring the industry has sufficient data for planning needs longer term.

“In putting our strategy together, the Cereals & Oilseeds Sector Board considered how levy-funded activity could specifically add value and have greater impact, how we could learn from other industries at home and overseas, and how we could encourage farming to get fitter to prepare for life post Brexit,” said AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Sector Board Chair Paul Temple.

As a result the AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Strategy focuses on areas such as national and international benchmarking delivered through Farmbench and variety selection via the Recommended Lists as routes to better management of input costs and meeting market demand. 

 “The cereals industry needs sound, relevant knowledge exchange delivered quickly and effectively to respond to the turbulent times ahead. Our supply chains and growers also need access to the right data and analysis at the right time,” he added.

“There is a pressing need to start to knit together the industry’s fragmented knowledge exchange landscape and look at how real innovation can be delivered by farmers to farmers. We need to explore how we can replicate research outputs in field-scale trials to take into account regional variations, and build on our cross sector activities in areas such as soils and nutrient management.”

Mr Temple also highlighted a need to expand AHDB’s knowledge exchange delivery: “We can no longer rely on our own network to deliver the level of knowledge exchange needed longer term, so AHDB needs to work harder on building long term relationships with agronomists, consultants and other third parties to speed up the pace and variety of activity in a way which does not compromise our independence,” said Mr Temple.

Post Brexit, the importance of finding new markets for cereals and oilseeds, and understanding the sometimes complex market access requirements necessary for trade deals is also a strategic focus. This area of work will be delivered through AHDB’s new cross sector exports and market development teams using the recognised ukp and uks quality descriptors.

With the spotlight on where AHDB can add value, the three year strategy also proposes a move into more levy-funded ‘near market research’ away from funded pre-plant breeding research which can be high risk and expensive.  Alongside this AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds is seeking to retain influence by working closely with BBRSC and the new AgriTech centres.

Another area for reduced activity is in bespoke cereals and oilseeds marketing, education and nutrition work, with the Sector Board looking to make best use of AHDB’s existing cross sector activities with schools and health professionals.

The strategy can be found on line at

 The closing date for the consultation is 9 January 2017.

Cereals and oilseeds levy rates for 2017/18 are to remain unchanged.

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