Tesco and Harper Adams University's School of Sustainable Food and Farming (SSFF) have announced the launch of a major new multi-year programme which will help up-and-coming British farmers 'develop their skills in sustainable agriculture.'
With recent surveys suggesting younger farmers have identified skills gaps in areas including sustainability and the environment, the Future Farmer Programme will provide '75 young farmers with face-to-face and live online training' on how to implement sustainable agriculture practices and protect biodiversity.
The nine-month course, which will run each year for the next three years, will also include events and mentoring sessions on business operations and personal development.
Farmers under the age of 40 from across different agricultural sectors and at different stages of their development will be encouraged to apply for the programme ahead of its start date in October.
As part of the Partnership with SSFF, Tesco will also fund research projects aimed at addressing some of the key sustainability challenges affecting agriculture. The first research project will look to 'bring together different sectors of Tesco's agricultural supply base to understand how land can be managed in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable for all parties involved in an agricultural rotation.'
Speaking at the launch of the programme at the Royal Welsh Show, Ashwin Prasad, Tesco's chief product officer, said: "British agriculture plays a crucial role in protecting and enhancing our natural environment and will be right at the heart of the UK's efforts to achieve its net zero ambitions. It is also had to overcome some incredibly tough challenges over the past two years, which is why we're committed to supporting it, both now and in the future.
"With this in mind, I am delighted to be launching this new programme with Harper Adams University, which will see some of the brightest young talents in the industry benefit from training and support in implementing sustainable agriculture techniques, helping to safeguard the industry, and our natural environment, for future generations."
Simon Thelwell, director of the School of Sustainable Food and Farming at Harper Adams University, said: "We are entering a hugely exciting but challenging next chapter for UK Agriculture. The transition to more sustainable food production systems is a significant change for many farmers, and so understanding these issues, identifying the opportunities they present, and being prepared to make change is the key focus of the course.
"The course is split into three focus areas, Understanding Sustainability - which will explore the key drivers and opportunities for the industry; Agile Mindsets - which will help participants identify their own strengths, capabilities and weaknesses; and Agile Business, will help them structure and adapt their business, existing or new, and to identify new opportunities and methods for a sustainable future."