UK-Spain collaboration unlocks opportunities in Agri-Tech 

Published: January 31, 2024

The UK Agri-Tech Centres have taken a critical step in fostering collaboration with Spain to address shared challenges and promote sustainable development in agriculture, agroforestry, food and aquaculture. 

Agri-Tech Centres staff have recently travelled to Spain for an innovation visit as part of a tactical fund project funded by Department of Science, Innovation and Technology. The project aims to support international collaboration by providing an agile response to emerging science opportunities and political commitments.

James Kayam, International Business Development Manager at Agri-EPI Centre said: “Providing nutritious food of sufficient quality and quantity in a sustainable way is a global challenge. Spain is no stranger to these challenges, as the effects of climate change and labour shortages continue to drive agri-tech innovation. 

“During our visit, we engaged with several organisations and companies at the forefront of these innovations, exploring collaborative opportunities with the UK Agri-Tech Centres. We got some great insights into the technologies and practices being used in Spain to help growers increase productivity in a sustainable way.” 

The collaboration is timely: Catalonia is bracing for an emergency phase in response to the worst drought in the last century. The effects of climate change are acutely felt by farmers across the region, underscoring the urgency of international cooperation in addressing such pressing challenges. As the project unfolds, the collaboration between the UK and Spain may help pave the way for groundbreaking solutions in agri-tech. 

Duncan Ross, Business Development Manager Crops and Horticulture at Agri-EPI Centre said: “The challenges in Spain are similar to those of the UK: availability of labour, water security and climate-resilient crops are all challenges being addressed whilst simultaneously trying to maintain and increase productivity using sustainable practices for crop management and post-harvest storage.

Each facility visited was isolating and utilising microbes for improving soil health, plant health and post-harvest storage. Adoption of agroforestry practices is helping to maintain the landscape, reduce erosion and research native breeds.”  

The Agri-Tech Centres look forward to continuing dialogue and to welcoming a Spanish delegation to the UK in April. 

Dr Geoff Elliott, Senior National Business Development Manager at Crop Health & Protection (CHAP), said:

“Visiting such a broad range of agri-food research facilities across Spain made clear the great potential that increasing research collaboration between the UK and Spain holds in this sector. Amongst many other areas, harnessing biodiversity above and below ground to deliver more resilient and sustainable food systems is something we at CHAP and the Agri-Tech Centres are certainly involved in and we saw much excellent work in this area on our visit.

“The demonstration of effective key resource management while supporting robust and diverse production systems was also extremely impressive. Whilst the pressures on systems may sometimes differ between our countries, helping others achieve a balance between economically viable production, land use, natural capital, the environment and sustainability is something we are all striving for through innovation coupled with effective collaboration.”

Future collaboration opportunities are imminent, particularly the Horizon funding call where the UK is now able to collaborate as an associate country with Spain.

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