A new Centre in Cambridge, designed to fast-track technologies to sustainably improve farmers’ yields worldwide, has been launched on the 1st October. The Crop Science Centre is an alliance between the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences and NIAB.
The Centre will serve as a global hub for crop science research and a base for collaborations with research partners around the world, to ensure global agricultural impact from the ground-breaking science happening in Cambridge. It includes a brand-new state-of-the-art research facility, at NIAB’s Lawrence Weaver Road campus in the north-west of Cambridge, maximising the pace of research and accelerating crop improvements.
The Centre will focus on improving the sustainability and equity of global food production. It will use an understanding of how plants work at the most fundamental level to drive transformative change in how we grow our food. Research will be aimed at reducing agricultural reliance on chemical inputs such as inorganic fertilisers, while maximising crop productivity, especially for the world’s poorest farmers.
Professor Giles Oldroyd FRS, Russell R. Geiger Professor of Crop Science at the University of Cambridge and Inaugural Director of the Crop Science Centre said: “This year we have seen how fragile our global systems are. The COVID-19 crisis is exposing another 120 million people to starvation worldwide, while crop yields here in the UK are suffering from changes in our climate.”
Oldroyd, who leads an international programme to replace inorganic fertilisers, added: “We need lasting solutions for stable and secure food production, but also need to improve sustainability in agriculture. We are excited to be opening this new Centre, which can drive the transformative change we so desperately need.”
Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “Urgent action is required to sustainably provide enough quality food for the world’s growing population. By combining our expertise in fundamental plant science with NIAB’s long experience in crop improvement, I am confident that we will make progress towards this vital goal.”
Dr Tina Barsby, CEO of NIAB, said: “Through transformative crop science technologies, research at the new Centre aims to ensure even the world’s poorest farmers can grow enough food. This work is at the top of the international agenda.”
Private donations from the late Russell R. Geiger and Robert and Susan Cawthorn helped to establish the Centre, alongside donations from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany Trust and the Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association (CUPGRA). Professor Oldroyd’s research programme is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
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