Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:12 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Jack Ward:

There is a list of things. Research and development is massively important—there is no access to ready-made solutions for the problems faced by a lot of relatively small crops, so they are invariably looking for solutions to problems, and research and development is absolutely vital.

There is also capital investment, and a good case in point at the moment is the replacement of seasonal and casual labour. How are we going to manage that? We are going to be looking at robotics—I think that the timescale is 10 years out, but that kind of thing is going to be really important. On skills and labour, which follows on from the whole seasonal labour piece, we probably need to be investing more into labour and encouraging more labour from UK sources for both seasonal and—more importantly—full-time activities.

There is also the issue of productivity and help with technical support. Often, growers are faced with a barrage of issues, from health and safety to GSCOP issues. Their ability to absorb every technical wrinkle that they need to know can be quite limited, so I think technical support would be pretty important, too.