Oxford Farming Conference

  • 09th January 2018
  • by secretary

3-5 January 2018. Oxford Farming Conference.

Kit Franklin, Harper Adams Univesity, Kit Franklin grew up on his parent’s farm in Gloucestershire and now currently lectures in Agricultural Engineering at Harper Adams University. Focussing on international business development and innovative agricultural engineering research, Kit’s research into “future farming systems” has led to the ground-breaking and headline-grabbing ‘Hands-Free Hectare’ project.

Professor Leon A. Terry, Director of Environment and Agrifood at Cranfield University, has called for a paradigm shift in funding strategies and research programmes in order to tackle food waste on a global scale.

In a recent paper entitled ‘Minimising food waste: a call for multidisciplinary research’, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Cranfield University researchers claim that assessing the global scale of food waste is challenging, with question marks over the extent and accuracy of post-harvest loss and waste data. They also argue that there is a paucity of active research being conducted in areas where post-harvest fresh produce loss is greatest. For example, Europe is one of the dominant areas for postharvest research, yet makes a relatively low contribution to global food loss.

“Emphasis has been put on increasing future crop production, with far less resource being channelled towards enabling both established and innovative food preservation technologies to reduce food waste. (…)
In Africa, which contributes approximately 18% of global postharvest food losses, they suggest the research base is too low across the continent, with the majority of research stemming from South Africa. Professor Terry argues that UK research funds should be used to address this imbalance.

There is currently a lack of robust postharvest research networks outside of the developed world, and insufficient global funding mechanisms that can support such interdisciplinary collaborations. There is, thus, a collective need for schemes that encourage inter-supply chain research, knowledge exchange and capacity building to reduce food losses and waste.

Carla Mayara Borges is a farmer and Nuffield Scholar from Chapadão do Céu, Goiás, in Brazil. She will also focus on how her family business has embraced change through past generations and, as a female working in Brazilian agriculture, will provide an insight into how women are taking key roles on farms and at a leadership level in Brazilian agriculture.

Professor Chris Elliott from Queens University, Belfast, an eloquent and brilliant speaker, will inform, challenge and inspire us about global food supply chains, food fraud and food safety.

“You can make more money in crime in food than you can in narcotics. It is not something that is going to go away. Fraud can start to destroy entire sectors of the industry. When people read about things in the newspaper, they start to lose trust. I do fear that we in the UK may be exposed to greater threats going forward and as a result the public will lose further trust in our national food supply system.”   

“The level of changes needed are substantial, the level of investment will be significant but the potential to have an entire population eating food that fulfils all six principles would undoubtedly be akin to a new industrial revolution. Paradoxically the first two industrial revolutions drove people away from the land, this one could help bring them back again.”

Politics session
A line up of politicians, including Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Defra and Paolo de Castro MEP, vice-chairman to the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and former Italian Minister for Agriculture and Ted McKinney, Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs to United States Department of Agriculture.