How we transform our agricultural food systems to feed an ever-growing population is one of the issues to be examined in a new series of webinars organised by the GrowAgri Worcestershire project, based at Pershore College.
Starting on January 19, Food Future Solutions: opportunities in agri-food, is a series of three expert-led webinars that will examine a variety of topics from UK food security post-Brexit to new trends in the food industry.
The events are part of a new virtual business support programme aimed to promote diversification of businesses into the agri-tech and agrifood sector. The free webinars will also highlight the opportunities for Worcestershire-based businesses to be part of the future development of these technologies.
Guest speakers include Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership who will be talking about the food industry’s contribution to regional economic growth and Worcestershire as a place for food businesses.
Dr Anil de Sequeira, leader of the Food with Nutrition degree programme at Bath Spa University and a Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology will talk about new trends in the food industry and where future opportunities lie.
Megan Barrow, from Tewkesbury-based Applikon Biotechnology, will talk about bioreactors and their applications in the food industry, alongside a number of other contributors.
Event organiser, Dr Anjana Patel, Agri-Tech Research Assistant, Pershore College, said: “The GrowAgri team is pleased to launch a new series of webinars that are designed to provide greater understanding of a range of themes relating to the way we grow and process our food, and how innovation in this area can improve efficiencies our agrifood systems.
“With the world’s population set to rise to 9.7 billion by 2050, it is estimated that we need to produce nearly 50 percent more food which will place additional challenges on our already-depleted natural resources.
“Climate change is already having a large impact on our food supply with droughts and flooding affecting the ability of farmers to sow their crops. And it’s not just a problem that is affecting less-developed countries. Last winter, widespread flooding in the North and Midlands left thousands of acres of farmland under water at a key time, leaving farmers unable to sow seeds for wheat and barley.
“In order to address these key issues, an increase in agricultural productivity is required along with a climate-resilient agricultural system. The need for technological development in agrifood to achieve more sustainable and productive agriculture is ever more pressing and the GrowAgri project supports this.
“Innovation in agri-tech and agrifood has a key role to play in solving the big issues, from creating alternatives to meat-based proteins to advances in biotechnology that can produce crops more resistant to pests and diseases. We look forward to welcoming a variety of speakers for a range of institutions and organisations to shed light on these areas.”
The agri-tech sector is viewed by the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership as strategically important for the growth of the Worcestershire economy. The GrowAgri project seeks to support those companies that sit outside the traditional agricultural primary production & processing, and support them to grow and innovate within the agri-tech domain.
Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “ Agri-tech is one of Worcestershire’s key sectors with a plethora of innovative organisations working locally to solve and improve on the food manufacturing process. I am looking forward to speaking on the 19th to share the value this sector has for the wider Worcestershire economy, and to highlight its importance in our 2040 vision.”