Eight universities in northern England have joined forces to form a scientific powerhouse at the launch of an international food research programme.
The N8 AgriFood partnership will be centred on three themes: sustainable production; strengthening supply chains; and improving health. It is hoped that the five-year partnership will contribute to a “paradigm shift” in the UK food system.
UN data estimates that global food production needs to expand by 60% by the middle of the century in order to keep pace with rises in human population and changes in people’s diets.
N8 AgriFood founding director Sue Hartley said: “We cannot grow our way out of this problem; we have to try to change the way that we behave.” Explaining the thinking behind the formation of the partnership, Prof Hartley added: “To address the challenges of food security, we are going to need a very interdisciplinary programme.
“We are looking at how to grow food more sustainably, to make better use of our scarce water and land resources.” But, she said, these factors were only part of the issue: “We also need to look at our supply chains and how to make them more resilient to the shocks of sudden extreme weather events or economic turmoil. “We also need to look at the way we behave as people, as consumers of food.”