New strategy for HGCA as it celebrates 50th anniversary

The HGCA team: Front left HGCA Chairman Jonathan Tipples, front right HGCA Director Rebecca Geraghty

The HGCA team: Front left HGCA Chairman Jonathan Tipples, front right HGCA Director Rebecca Geraghty - Credit: Archant

The UK’s cereals and oilseeds levy-payers’ group is set for a re-brand as it celebrates its 50th year.

HGCA, a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), has set out its priorities for investing the levy in research and knowledge exchange activities over the next five years following a consultation last year. This attracted around 1,000 responses from individuals and organisations who provided their views on the challenges facing arable businesses.

It found the top five business challenges involved dealing with cost/price pressures, pesticide availability, weed management, weather volatility and the impact of new legislation. The responses from the consultation were used to construct the new HGCA Investing in Innovation: Research & Knowledge Exchange Strategy 2015–2020.

It includes three strategic aims: to inform on-farm decisions to increase productivity, to improve business opportunities through understanding product quality and making the most of market potential, and to prepare the industry by assessing future challenges and conducting activity in response to these challenges.

The organisation, which was incorporated with other agricultural and horticultural levy boards in 2008, will re-brand as AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds this year. Its golden jubilee celebrations will start at this summer’s Cereals event, following HGCA’s official launch anniversary on June 2.

The stand will feature a special exhibition looking at how the landscape has changed for the UK cereals and oilseeds supply chain over the last half century and what it might look like in the future.

At the event, HGCA will showcase initiatives designed to secure a sustainable and profitable future at the cutting edge of scientific and commercial innovation, run by both HGCA and partnership organisations.

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Exhibits will encompass scientific research, skills development, consumer education, business management and industry collaboration. The event will also explore key advancements in science, technology and understanding, alongside changing market and supply chain dynamics, which have impacted arable businesses over past decades.

HGCA director Rebecca Geraghty said: “The sector has changed radically over the past 50 years and will continue to do so. This year provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on past achievements and establish a new direction of travel.”

Dr Vicky Foster, HGCA research team leader, said of the new strategy: “From the outset, we knew the challenges would be diverse and the industry feedback has confirmed the complex nature of our farming systems and businesses.”