Agricultural science projects worth £62million are finally under way at Invergowrie’s James Hutton Institute (JHI) after the green light on finance was given by the Tay Cities Deal committee.
It means the long campaign for a flagship £35m International Barley Hub (IBH) will come to fruition to develop new varieties and growing systems that can cope with future climate change, as well as investigating new uses for the crop.
And the other project, the £27m Advanced Plant Growth Centre (APGC) will provide a growing environment which JHI believes will revolutionise crop production systems around the world.
JHI adds: “APGC will help develop improved crops and sustainable new ways of growing and storing existing crops. It will contribute to reducing the risk arising from the impact of climate change and will enhance the UK’s capabilities to lead a rapidly expanding market which is expected to be worth $10bn by 2025.”
Among the systems to be investigated are indoor vertical farms.
JHI chief executive, Colin Campbell said the projects were “shovel ready” and the sign off would allow the institute to “break ground”.
“The £62m committed by the UK and Scottish governments through the Tay Cities Deal for both projects constitute the largest-ever investment in Scottish agricultural science and will power the green recovery needed after Covid-19,” he said .
“These projects… will cement the reputation of Scotland and the UK as global leaders in research and innovation.”
JHI predict a huge potential economic impact from IBH and APGC and point to every£1 invested in the institute returns £12.75 to the UK economy.
The two projects are expected to create more than 470 jobs in the Tayside region and a further 2,200 jobs across the wider Scottish and UK economy.
UK Government Minister for Scotland, Iain Stewart, said: “The UK Government’s £45m investment is supporting Scotland’s iconic food and drink industries and reinforcing its cutting-edge expertise in agricultural innovation.”
The Scottish Government’s Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, added: “We have provided more than £84m in research funding over the last four years, and the projects the deal is supporting will help the institute further enhance its international reputation for research excellence.
“These projects will also support our ambitions for a green recovery, with the potential to create high quality jobs and innovative spin out companies.”