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Mean on Monday: Gloucestershire is the natural home for Agri-Tech

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By Ian Mean, Business West Gloucestershire director & Vice chair GFirstLEP

Gloucestershire has always been seen as the innovative home for specialist manufacturing and engineering with firms like Renishaw and Spirax Sarco.

But do we really realise the growing importance of the contribution that Agri-Tech makes to the Gloucestershire economy?

I don’t think so. In fact, something like 74% of land in Gloucestershire is commercially farmed.

The Agri-Tech sector is valued at about £1.5billion and supports more.
than 50 000 jobs in the wider community.

The relevance of the sustainability of food production has become more apparent through the Ukraine conflict-the resultant shortages and higher prices.

Did we really know how much food Ukraine provided that ended up in
our shops? I don’t think so.

That’s why I believe Gloucestershire is the natural home for Agri-Tech and
its research and development.

Agricultural technology or Agri-Tech is the application of technology to
produce more with less, to make the farming process more efficient from
field monitoring to the food supply chain itself.

Here in Gloucestershire we have world class expertise in Agri-Tech through the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester and Hartpury University and Hartpury College.

We are also blessed with having Campden BRI-the world leading Agri-
Tech research organisation.

I have been very impressed recently by the development of Hartpury after
Business West held a Network in Nature event there.

They have a relatively new Vice Chancellor, Principal and CEO in Professor Andy Collop, who tells me that Agri-Tech and Digital Farming is going to be one of their USPs.

Ben Thompson, Hartpury’s Agri-Tech Centre Manager told us how farming
has transformed. In the 1950s, an average mid-western farm fed 15 people. In the 2020s, it will feed 200 people.

Hartpury’s Agri-Tech centre now has a network of over 1 000 farming
businesses across the UK.

This is data driven Agri-Tech. Gloucestershire should be proud that-through Hartpury and the Royal Agricultural University- we are educating tomorrow’s new generation of farmers in this new digital world of Agri-Tech.

It is so important for our county’s economy.

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