Parliament backs Conservative plan for real growth

11-Mar-2014 @ 17:0

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

A British MEP's detailed plan to unleash the potential of the horticulture sector as a major force in farming and food security was approved by the European Parliament in Strasbourg today.

Anthea McIntyre's blueprint covers a package of measures to make horticulture more efficient, more hi-tech and less dependent on pesticides and fertiliser. At the same time she believes the sector can provide much-needed jobs in a dynamic and innovative environment for young people seeking jobs in the countryside and semi-rural areas.

Horticulture and market gardens account for only 3% of the EU's cultivated land - but contribute 18% of its total agricultural production. Miss McIntyre, who herself runs an agricultural smallholding, believes the EU has neglected the part horticulture can play in increasing food security and providing local fruit, flowers and vegetables.

Miss McIntyre said: "Horticulture is leading the way in the development of precision farming and the food it produces is good for health. However, we think that with even greater focus and support for research and development it can become more efficient, more productive and even greener."

The Report calls on the Commission to:

- promote flexible pest management

- support innovation and entrepreneurship through increased research and development for non-chemical alternatives such as natural predators and parasites of pest species

- use the EU's long term research and innovation to fund, Horizon 2020, to support integrated strategies for pest, disease and weed control.

Miss McIntyre said: "Within 20 years we will need to produce 40% more food than at present. It is really important that we raise the profile and champion the growth of this sector.

"Integrated pest management is the way forward. Here I must pay tribute to the work of Harper Adams University in my region for their excellent work in this area.

"We cannot bury our heads in the sand and ignore the very real impact on our food production. Banning the use of some pesticides before ecologically sound alternatives are developed threatens our food security.

"Right across Europe we are witnessing high levels of youth unemployment. We should encourage young people to consider careers in the horticulture sector.

"We need botanist, engineers, plant scientists, all highly trained and providing worthwhile careers in this vital sector."

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