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Supporting the rural economy

Published: 1 Sep 2017 09:46

Economic benefits of new food and animal health research.

Research on food, plants and animals has generated £600 million of economic benefit and supported over 2,800 Scottish jobs, new analysis has shown.

The 2011-2016 Strategic Research Programme, commissioned by the Scottish Government, includes work to create new crop varieties and control the spread of animal disease.

The research has funded trials of new raspberries, blackcurrants and potatoes which are better able to fight diseases and cope with climate change.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Roseanna Cunningham said:

“I welcome this analysis which demonstrates the importance of our renowned research in these fields. Our research is not only giving us a greater understanding of some of the challenges our rural economy and environment is facing, like potato crop failures, cattle disease or the impacts of climate change, but it is opening up opportunities to trial new products and reach into new markets.”

Dr Viren Ranawana, Scientist at the Rowett Institute commenting on the research, stated:

“Diet-related chronic diseases are increasing in the UK despite government dietary guidelines, and one reason for this is that most of us are often unable to change our dietary habits. Reformulating foods we like to eat in order to make them healthier is an alternative approach to improving health.  We have been exploring how some underexploited natural products, suited to production in a Scottish climate, can be used to produce healthier food options and one example are the berries, salal and honeyberry, which may be used to produce more nutritious yoghurts.”

Background

The highlights of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Research Programme 2011-16.

The Economic Impact of the Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016.

Between 2011 and 2016 the Scottish Government invested £246 million in a portfolio of strategic research and related activities.

The report focused on quantifying two main types of economic impact associated with the Strategic Research Programme: operational impacts, generated directly as a result of the funding provided (equivalent to £469 million GVA and 1,380 Scottish jobs), and wider economic benefits realised as a result of the research supported by the funding (equivalent to £152 million GVA and 1,460 jobs). As research is a long-term activity, the benefits of which frequently require many years to realise, the value of these wider economic benefits will almost certainly increase over time.

Dr Ranawana is a scientist at the Rowett Institute, a member of the Scottish Environment, Food, and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI) collective