Celebrating his first year in office, UK Government minister Lord Duncan visited innovators and scientists leading the way in high-tech developments in agriculture at Scotland’s biggest agricultural event, the Royal Highland Show.

The Scottish politician had high praise for the country’s agricultural research and innovation.

“Anyone who thinks that farming is tweedy and dusty would be astounded at the level of technology and scientific precision involved,” he said.

Highland 2018

“While at the Royal Highland Show, I’ll be having a ‘superfood breakfast’ at the James Hutton Institute tent, and hearing about their groundbreaking work in developing science to help feed the world – from right here in Scotland.

“It’s been one year since I became a UK Government minister, and in that time I have put championing innovation and agriculture at the heart of my priorities, travelling the length and breadth of Scotland to visit farmers, scientists and stakeholders.”

Duncan said he looked forward to seeing even more of the “exciting future that agriculture has” while at the show.

400,000 jobs

“Agriculture is part of the lifeblood of the UK,” he said. “It feeds us, fuels us, pumps in billions of pounds to the UK economy, and supports nearly 400,000 jobs in Scotland alone.

“Indeed 80% of Scotland’s land mass is involved in agricultural production.

“From robotics to genetics and feeding the world, the UK is a pioneer in technological innovation.

“We know that this work in innovation is key to increasing productivity and sustainability in agriculture and will allow the UK to continue to compete globally, meeting the growing demand for British food around the world.

Groundbreaking Scottish research

“The UK Government is helping pioneering Scottish scientists lead the way in tackling problems such as pests and disease.

“The Department for International Development (DFID) is funding new cutting-edge research to allow farmers to grow crops that are more nutritious, more resistant to disease and better able to withstand severe floods or drought in Africa.

This is being carried out by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, who are also leading ground-breaking work on devastating diseases which cause huge economic losses for African farmers.

“DFID is also contributing £4 million funding to the centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health – which is based in both Edinburgh and Nairobi – and progresses scientific advances in genetics and genomics that help smallholder dairy and poultry farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.”

He also highlighted the £90 million of new funding announced in February through the UK Government’s modern Industrial Strategy, to support agricultural technology through artificial intelligence, robotics and earth observation.