Scientists and Waitrose suppliers are coming together to share best practice to help create a sustainable global supply chain in fruit and veg
They are meeting as part of the Waitrose Farm Assessment initiative, a series of training courses which started in 2011 to help suppliers improve their practice, and to quantify the impact of the changes they make.
As well as improving the sustainability of their own operations, the data collected by suppliers can help others in the supply chain, and is useful to scientists researching in this area.
It is part of a joint initiative by major retailer Waitrose and Lancaster University to bring researchers and producers together to help answer some of the big challenges of producing enough nutritious food for a growing population, in a sustainable way.
Growers and suppliers at the meeting will hear from scientists about the latest advancements in a series of key areas including: controlling pests and diseases, efficient use of water and other resources, advances in plant genetics and climate smart agriculture. There will also be contributions from retailers and suppliers with experience to share with their fellow producers.
Professor Bill Davies, from Lancaster University is a member of the Waitrose Agronomy Group that manages the Farm Assessment, and organised the meeting, part of the 4th Waitrose Farm Assessment.
“It’s a chance for growers and suppliers to learn from the latest science and for scientists to learn from the real experience of those who produce and supply our food,” he said.
“Questions asked and answered at the meeting might include: What are we assessing and why? Are there new technologies that we can use? Are there new ways in which the assessment results might be used to the benefit of the industry?”
Alan Davies, head of the Waitrose Agronomy Group, said: “The Assessment process is not about one farm, one country or one supplier, it’s about the whole worldwide farming process, and its success lies with the combined effort of many people.”
Bill has arranged for the meeting to be filmed for the first time so growers and suppliers who cannot attend can take advantage of the Assessment process. The films will also help form a module of Food Challenges for the 21st Century, a Lancaster University postgraduate professional training programme, developed with Waitrose.
The meeting - Farm practices and the farm assessment: a role for new science - is being held at Warwick University from 8-10 May 2017.