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OPINION: Why Dundee is at the heart of the UK’s food security plans

UK Government Minister Malcolm Offord was shown round the Intelligent Growth Solutions plant at the James Hutton Institute by chief operating officer Andrew Lloyd.
UK Government Minister Malcolm Offord was shown round the Intelligent Growth Solutions plant at the James Hutton Institute by chief operating officer Andrew Lloyd.

Making sure the UK’s food industry is leading the world has never been more important – and here in Dundee we are going even further.

Despite a flurry of global challenges – the war in Ukraine, rising fuel costs, climate change – food security in the UK is in excellent shape.

But it’s an issue that will remain high on the UK Government’s agenda as we navigate turbulent times and work together to tackle these challenges head-on.

With Britain’s riches of natural resources and the vast experience of our farmers in innovation, we’re armed to embrace new methods that will deliver tangible results and further protect our future food security.

Science is on our side, and at Invergowrie, the first green shoots of what may well be a global revolution in farming are emerging.

Innovation in action at Invergowrie

Today I visited Intelligent Growth Solutions and the James Hutton Institute who are working in partnership on Scotland’s vertical farming technology.

The technology used there sits side by side with research being carried out by another innovator housed at the James Hutton Institute – the Advanced Plant Growth Centre, which shapes technologies for growth systems and crop cultivation.

It’s one of the projects funded by the Tay Cities Region Deal, signed in 2020 with a commitment of £150m funding each from the UK and Scottish Governments.

Scotland Office Minister Malcolm Offord is welcomed to Invergowrie by chief operating officer Andrew Lloyd. Photo: Gareth Jennings.

The Advanced Plant Growth Centre is benefitting from £25m of UK Government cash from the deal.

That sits alongside a further £20m for the International Barley Hub, which is securing a brighter future for that essential grain.

Vertical farming means crops are grown entirely indoors in a controlled environment, offering a slew of benefits.

Each plant gets precisely what it needs to flourish, preventing precious and finite resources – such as water – being wasted.

There is a greater capacity to control quality and flavour.

And with vertical farms closer to consumers, the produce is fresher and has a longer shelf life, with the prospect of reduced delivery mileage an important bonus.

Crop loss due to weather or disease is effectively eliminated, as are insecticides since plants are beyond the reach of pests.

Dundee at the heart of work in Scotland and the UK

The pioneering work, backed by Intelligent Growth Solutions and the James Hutton Institute seeks to ensure vertical farming is commercially viable.

It will increase knowledge about automation, sensing and monitoring to equip tomorrow’s farmers here and abroad with the fresh skills they will need for a new era.

Scotland is the perfect location for this pioneering work, with access to clean energy and a proven track record in plant and crop science allied to world-class engineering and automation knowledge.

Just as the UK Government is determined to protect our long-term energy security, we are striving to maximise our natural resources and farming expertise - and Dundee is at the very heart of that.


Malcolm Offord, Lord Offord of Garvel, was appointed a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to the Scotland Office in 2021.

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