Leading the way as a worldclass centre of agricultural excellence is key to achieving AHDB’s ambition for UK agriculture to be the very best, according to AHDB Chairman Peter Kendall. Speaking at the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) Conference, Mr Kendall explained AHDB’s long term ambition for UK agriculture and the future role he believed the organisation could play as a centre of agricultural excellence, working across the supply chain. He also reiterated his ambition to complete AHDB’s journey towards becoming one organisation and to encourage ‘genuine industry debate’ post April 2015 on AHDB’s future activities and potential role.
“I know that talking about long term ambition and farmers’ potential to seize market opportunities does not sit comfortably with sectors in the grip of low prices – such as those cereals and dairy are experiencing now,” he said. “The truth is, global market volatility is here to stay in the same way as the vagaries of the weather are. But we’ve got to keep looking at the bigger, long term picture – at the opportunities provided by growing markets at home and overseas. Let’s dare to ask how we can better compete for a share of these markets.”
As well as pointing to UK success stories in soft fruit and, recently, in pig meat exports, Mr Kendall pointed to the achievements of agricultural sectors in other countries, highlighting that the keys to success lay in collaborative supply chain working, a focus on growth and exports, good links between education, research and knowledge exchange and strong, large scale centres of excellence for agriculture. He added: “AHDB has a long term ambition for its levy payers and UK agriculture. We want to provide levy payers with the right tools to become the most efficient and sustainable businesses they can be. Let’s aim to be the envy of other countries and not be satisfied with sitting back and letting them take the lead. I want to work with the industry to ensure AHDB becomes that worldleading centre of excellence for UK agriculture working across the supply chain. This builds on our reputation as an evidencebased organisation with a solid track record of commissioning and delivering research, knowledge transfer and independent market information.”
He added: “With a new Chief Executive and a refreshed Board in place by early 2015, I will be seeking a genuine debate about the kinds of activity AHDB should be focusing on to deliver as that centre of excellence. But I am mindful we have to do this against a background of continuing to deliver more pounds on the bottom line for levy payers’ businesses.”
Pointing to October’s move of staff into a new, single building in Stoneleigh, Mr Kendall said the next stage on the journey to becoming one organisation was to start to consider plans for rebranding AHDB: “Working together in one building, focused on delivering under one unified, and unifying, brand means we will be able to leverage the impressive AHDB cross sector work that is being rolled out in areas such as soils, pest research, market intelligence, red meat exports and education. The bottom line is we’ve got to look, feel and behave like one organisation if we’re going to deliver as the UK’s centre of excellence for agriculture,” he said.