UK: £1m for horticulture berry research

The East Malling Trust has unveiled a £1 million fund to support scientific work. The new Director’s Grant will enable NIAB EMR, part of NIAB Group, to support five years of scientific research aimed at developing new varieties of soft and top fruit, as well as looking at how to best help UK and international growers mitigate the impact of climate change.

The research will also focus on improving plant health and resistance to disease by undertaking controlled trials in crop production, breeding pathology, and entomology. Announcing the grant, Dr. Oliver Doubleday, Chair of East Malling Trust, said: “This continues a century of support by the trust for the horticultural industry. We are delivering on our promise to sustain high-level industry-led research here at NIAB EMR.”

The research projects receiving the funding will be overseen by Professor Mario Caccamo, CEO of NIAB, who will work closely with his senior management team and the trust. He said: “This grant scheme further cements our already strong partnership, and we look forward to delivering on the trust’s confidence in our scientists.”

Dr. Celia Caulcott, Chair of the Trust’s Science & Impact Committee, added: “Thanks to their longstanding relationship with the industry, NIAB EMR scientists are perfectly placed to deliver projects that can make a real environmental and economic difference.

“The Director’s Grant will enable NIAB EMR to push the boundaries of strategic and applied horticultural research which will support the development and innovation of the industry. The funding decision is a testament to the quality of the organization’s management and the international significance of the research being undertaken by the scientists. The research focus is on helping the industry increase the production of affordable and nutritious food while reducing its consumption of water and energy in order to help the UK get to Net Zero.”

The £1 million grant is in addition to funding for the delivery of new research glasshouses and plant growth facilities using the latest environmental technologies. These facilities are home to Growing Kent & Medway, a partnership of leading businesses and universities working together to promote the sector’s economic growth. The new facilities were part of an £18 million investment from the Government’s Strength in Places Fund, with a significant contribution from East Malling Trust and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.

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