How do we better encourage new engineering ideas and innovation in the Agricultural Engineering Sector, both in the UK and World Wide?
That's another good question for engineering students to think about...
The Institute of Agricultural Engineering (www.iagre.org) are organising a consortia-building workshop on the 23rd July Entitled
"Engineering Solutions - enhancing agri-food production efficiency"
"The Technology Strategy Board recently published their Delivery Plan for 2013-14, which describes future activities relevant to the agrifood supply chain for the coming financial year. In anticipation of the next SAF-IP competition 'Engineering solutions and precision agriculture technologies' we are organising consortia-building workshops to promote this call. These workshops will help businesses and research-base partners better understand the competition scope and identify potential project partners."
A summary of the Technology Strategy Board Food Action Plan (www.innovateuk.org) is below:
- Engineering solutions and precision agriculture technologies:
Enhance resource-use efficiency in the arable, livestock and food
processing environments using advanced engineering and precision
agriculture across the agrifood supply chain
- Integrated farming systems: Economic geographic and climatic
pressures have led to a high degree of specialisation within UK
agriculture. This competition will stimulate the development of a more
efficient and integrated approach to food production, with closer cooperation between sub-sectors
- Circular agricultural economy: Investigate the opportunity for
utilisation of co-products from plant and animal production and
processing across the whole agrifood system
- Feeding the Future: Innovation Requirements for Primary Food
Production in the UK to 2030. An industry-wide report to outline what
innovation is needed in the industry to be published in May 2013"
New Agricultural Engineering challenges will continue to arise world wide as populations increase, and climate patterns shift. The UK is in a great position to increase the export of agricultural engineering products and services overseas.
Since the food crisis in Malawi and Zimbabwe is in the news I must add the following:
"Africa food crisis: UK pledges £35m to Malawi and Zimbabwe"
I don't support agricultural subsidies (especially those given out in Europe and America) or the perennial food aid given to Africa for that matter.
If there are engineering and economic problems to be solved, they should be clearly identified so we can then find ways of solving them cost effectively. It is both unnecessary and completely unacceptable for the UK government to be handing out food aid to African countries like Malawi and Zimbabwe, without clear, rational and sustainable agricultural development plans being brought to the public table for engineers and others to debate, evaluate and cost.
In regards to Zimbabwe in particular, I suspect most ordinary people from both countries would like the chance to consign all this to the history books and move on now. The government led by Robert Mugabe has made its mistakes and the UK goverment before it made their mistakes, its time to move on now.
The Zimbabwean and UK governments need to come to an accord that allows engineering knowledge and investment to flow so that the Zimbabwean people can build up their own agricultural output again, to a level where they no longer need food aid.
This should certainly be possible in the first instance for agricultural workers that now own their own land and who choose to organise themselves collectively into co-operatives or partnerships to access the economies of scale necessary to reduce costs and improve productivity.