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    Sainsbury’s invests £1m in its farmers and growers

    NewsWednesday 11 December 2013
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    UK Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is pledging £1 million to its British farmers and growers as part of its investment into the future of British farming. 
     
    The money will go to 700 of its farmers and suppliers and the 13 allocated projects are set to improve animal health and welfare, efficiencies and supply chain resilience at field level. They are also aiming to help the development of new products or processes which would help to improve quality, taste and freshness. 
     
    Last year saw the introduction of the Sainsbury’s Agricultural Research and Development fund, which encouraged farmers and growers to adopt leading technologies, whilst making use of research and innovations in farming. 
     
    The funding was awarded to a number of projects from up and down the country. These included innovations that could reduce the reliance on natural gas for tomato, cucumber and sweet pepper growers, as well as other advances to extend the British strawberry season. 
     
    Through these projects, as well as a number of others, the supermarket is working towards its target to double sales of British food by 2020. This has been branded as the Sainsbury’s 20x20 Sustainability Plan. 
     
    In September the application for entries was opened to all of Sainsbury’s 2,500 British farmers and growers, with support from the Farming Minister, David Heath. 
     
    In total 56 entries were submitted, and 21 of these were then shortlisted across 14 sectors. The money was then awarded to the selected projects, with the average amount handed out being £77,000. One such project aims to investigate methods of improving the yield of UK pears by optimising pollination. 
     
    This £1 million investment is the latest in Sainsbury’s ongoing commitment to working closely with farmers and growers to restore biodiversity, protect our natural resources and habitats and raise environmental, animal welfare and social standards throughout our supply chain.
     
    Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand said: "We launched the Agricultural Research & Development fund last year, and were inspired by the level of innovation and forward-thinking that was evident amongst the farmers and growers we work with. This year, once again we’ve seen just how forward-thinking the agricultural industry is with 56 impressive entries. 
     
    "There are clear challenges facing the industry, but by helping farmers and growers to realise the potential of the innovative ideas they have and look at ways to adopt existing technologies and research, we can take real steps towards new and more efficient ways of working that benefit both them and our customers."
     
    As part of last year’s grants, the Wheat Development Group was awarded funding. This investigated three new technologies that measure nitrogen status of milling wheats under ‘real life’ conditions. The project has worked well this year and research is very much seen as a two-way process with both researchers and growers benefitting from the knowledge gained.
     
    As a result of the research, milling wheat growers can now make better informed decisions to reduce nitrogen inputs and improve their environmental credentials to provide a more resilient supply of UK sourced grain.
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