The AgriFood Charities Partnership (AFCP) was established to create opportunities to increase knowledge and expertise in the agri-food sector through collaboration and innovation via a network of charities and other funders. Its aims fall into these three key areas:
- Science and research
- Training, Skills and Professional Development
- Public Education
The AFCP attempts to fulfil this remit through the following activities:
An open access search-based website providing information on agri-food charities and research providers throughout the UK, enabling either individuals or charities to find funding partners. Member organisations are highlighted, but the website also includes all relevant charities and organisations for which we have information to provide a comprehensive directory for the sector.
Regular Newsletters sent to members providing an update on key industry issues, AFCP activities and new funding opportunities for charities.
National and Regional Forums, bringing together charity trustees, funders and others in the agrifood business are held on a regular basis to foster a deeper understanding of each other’s objectives and identify areas for potential collaboration. These events have been highly successful in identifying, and generating, new research for the sector.
THE AFCP Forums
National Forums bringing together charities, key sector influencers, Universities and Colleges have garnered widespread interest in the objectives of the AFCP and built long-lasting collaborations.
A focus on education and training, science and public education led to many successful projects including a review of career awareness, education, retention and development in the industry, supported by the NFU Mutual.
Two major initiatives followed:
- support for the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association to develop a methodology to deliver agriculture-related topics into the school curriculum
- the identification of an effective mechanism for the incorporation of the AFCP website structure into the NLBC website and the subsequent provision of supporting information.
In recent years the AFCP has staged Regional forums to bring together charities and other providers in a region to discuss areas of collaboration, including the joint funding of projects. The AFCP/AHDB studentship scheme developed from one such forum. Annually a PhD project identified as of national importance is jointly funded by AHDB and a group of charities (typically four or five charities are involved) and AFCP is part of the project management team.
Student forums are held biennially and provide an opportunity for research students funded by charities to meet each other and present papers and posters on their research projects. The forums are hosted by one of our partner organisations, typically a university or research station. As well as talking to each other, students get the opportunity to learn about the work of the host organisation and be inspired by a guest speaker, such as the AFCP Patron, Lord Curry. To date, forums have been held at NIAB (2013) and the Universities of Nottingham (2015), Hertfordshire (2017) and Reading (2019). The 2021 Student Forum will be held at Cranfield University.
New Science and Research
Nationally important science and research delivered in three- year PhD projects are being jointly funded by AFCP charities and the AHDB. Working with the AHDB ensures that new research is relevant and strengthens the impact of charity investments.
Typically, three to five charities collaborate to provide half the investment needed for this research and the AHDB fund the other half. The AFCP is a catalyst and facilitator in bringing all sides together as well as supporting the project management.
Key areas of research so far include:
Soil health: Five East of England charities and the AHDB are supporting George Crane in his PhD at the University of Cambridge. George is working with a farmer-led initiative focussing on the impact of rotational and soil management regimes on the symbiotic interaction between mycorrhizal fungi and wheat roots. The project commenced in January 2018.
Dairy/Beef Calf health: Four charities from the South West and Essex alongside the AHDB are funding Bobby Hyde to undertake a PhD at the University of Nottingham to explore ways to minimise the use of antibiotics in calf management. The project commenced in October 2018.
Oilseed rape pest control : Five East of England charities and the AHDB are funding Claire Horau to do a PhD at Harper Adams University on the potential of biopesticides, and optimising use of conventional insecticides for control of cabbage stem flea beetle. The project commenced in October 2019.
Environmental impact of dairy systems : Commencing in Autumn 2020, four charities from the South West and Essex alongside the AHDB are funding a PhD project aimed at developing strategies to reduce net carbon emissions from dairy production systems at the University of Nottingham.
Please contact [email protected] if you would like to be involved in any of these activities, or suggest new funding or research opportunities.