Cross-party MPs and peers are calling for greater government support to secure the future of the UK's £24.2bn horticulture sector post-Brexit, in a new report published last week.
The All-Party Parliamentary Gardening and Horticulture Group (APPGHG) makes wide-reaching recommendations for how government can help drive sector growth which, despite its scale, is often undervalued, overshadowed and as a result, underdeveloped.
The APPGHG's report follows a nine-month inquiry into the key issues facing the sector. Having collected evidence from across the industry, it recommends that the government should:
- Review and improve plant-health legislation post-Brexit;
- Implement an Investment Incentive Scheme to increase domestic horticulture production;
- Provide matched funding for horticultural science R&D projects;
- Adequately fund Further Education in horticulture to ensure consistent delivery of high-quality training;
- Expand the Seasonal Workers Pilot to include ornamental horticulture to ensure industry access to seasonal labour.
Baroness Fookes DBE and Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, Co-Chairmen of the APPGHG, said: "Once a Cinderella - largely disregarded despite her many virtues - horticulture is now being recognised for the heroine she is.
“The importance of horticulture lies not simply in the improvement of the health and well-being of individuals but in its impact on the environment, its ability to provide careers at every level and its huge contribution to the economy.
“However, if it is to fulfil its full potential for good we need the Government to recognise that horticulture affects not simply DEFRA but other Government Departments such as BEIS, Education, Health and Social Care and International Trade. We urgently need a unified approach or - to use that rather hackneyed phrase - joined-up Government."
DEFRA minister George Eustice (pictured with Baroness Fookes and Alan Titchmarsh) said the horticulture and landscaping sectors made an important contribution to the economy. “Our Agriculture Bill sets out to reward the work undertaken to protect and improve the environment, including where benefits are delivered by the horticulture industry. I encourage all those with an interest to engage with the Bill as it goes through Parliament."
Alan Titchmarsh said the “excellent” report made a compelling case for the changes the sector desperately needed. “Horticulture plays a major role in every aspect of our lives; in our living environments and communities, in our health and social care systems, and in protecting our environment and mitigating against pollution and climate change, “ he added.
“The Government needs to sit up and take notice of the sector - which the UK is famous for around the world - and give it the crucial support it needs.”
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