Bishop of Exeter asks about support for the horticultural industry

The Bishop of Exeter received the following written answer on 13th March 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked His Majesty’s Government what support they are providing to the horticultural industry to support the growth of fruit and vegetables.

Lord Benyon (Con): An innovative, productive, and competitive agricultural sector is one of HM Government’s key priorities.

Horticultural production was worth £4.8 billion in 2021 and is a vital sector, not only in ensuring the resilience of our food supply chains, but also as a major driver of local economic growth and employment.

Innovation, such as the development of new plant varieties and growing systems, has already allowed growers to extend the growing seasons of a variety of crops, for example strawberries.

So far, Defra has committed over £90 million through the £270 million Farming Innovation Programme for industry-led research and development in agriculture and horticulture in England. This investment is enabling more farmers, growers and agri-food businesses to become involved in agricultural R&D. This will maximise the impact of R&D investment in innovation and improve the take up of novel approaches on farms. To date, one third of live projects are focussed on horticulture.

The Farming Investment Fund is supporting the growth of fruit and vegetables by providing grants to growers (including related contractors) so they can invest in the equipment, technology and infrastructure that will help their businesses to prosper. This includes robotic or autonomous equipment and systems that will support harvesting, weeding, spraying and plant spacing. In addition, the Water Management Grant supports more efficient use of water on farm helping to secure water supplies for crop irrigation by constructing on-farm reservoirs and adopting best practice irrigation application equipment. A second round of the Water Management Grant is planned for Spring 2023.


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