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Clarion Call to UK Agri-Technology to help world agriculture


British agri-technology should be spearheading the reconstruction of agricultural economies hit by recent natural disasters, says Philippa David, Director of Coventry-based International Agri-Technology Centre, and at the moment the sector is not making its voice heard sufficiently loudly either at home or abroad.

As a world leader in agricultural technology, the UK has many of the answers and expertise to the problems faced by countries hit by natural disasters, but does the world know what we have to offer? continues Philippa David. “With targeted support from the British government, and a more proactive approach from the sector itself, British business could and should be a significant part in reconstructing the agriculture of disaster-hit countries. It is important to stress the role of agriculture, and its sibling, food security, in maintaining political and social stability throughout the world an aspect of agriculture which is consistently underestimated.

Philippa David believes the recent floods in Pakistan and the earthquake in Haiti, have highlighted the fragility of agricultural structures in these countries. Agriculture forms the backbone of the economy in many developing countries, but it needs to be made more robust and efficient to benefit the whole economy, and not only in times of disaster, Ms David says. The Pakistani media is already calling for their government to use the flooding as an opportunity to reassess its policy on agriculture. Current estimates suggest that the costs to Pakistani agriculture of the recent floods will be around $2.8 billion, with millions of acres of standing crops, 30% of the countrys cultivable area, and a large percentage of livestock, destroyed.

According to Philippa David, the British agri-technology sector now has a unique opportunity to fullfil its potential within global agriculture. An integrated and focussed approach to promoting and supporting British agri-technology will not only ensure that people affected by disasters can get back up on their feet as quickly as possible, but it will also give a boost to the sector in the UK. If we take the classic adage of giving a man a fishing rod rather than a fish, lets make sure the fishing rod is British.

The International Agri-technology Centre, based in Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, is contracted by UK Trade & Investment to promote and support the UK’s agri-technology industry and develop its international trade potential.

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