The University of Sheffield has received £1.2m of funding to bring together academics, farmers, consumers and policymakers to help address global food security challenges by creating sustainable and resilient food systems.
According to academics at the university, the current global food supply chain is extremely fragile and with climate breakdown already impacting harvests, the future of food security is becoming increasingly uncertain.
To help combat these challenges, researchers will lead the second phase of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Food Network, bringing together academics, farmers, consumers and policymakers to devise new ways to address the challenges to the food supply.
The network will focus on areas such as smart farms and innovative production systems, for example, methods of growing plants without soil.
Researchers from across the UK and in targeted Asian and African countries will also be able to join the network and contribute towards the research.
Dr Sonal Choudhary, head of operations management and decision sciences research at the University of Sheffield said: ‘The system that fills our supermarket shelves is frighteningly fragile.
‘Our research will draw on cutting-edge technologies and data science capabilities from the STFC to feed the world while protecting our natural environment.
‘The funding will enable us to strengthen the existing STFC Food Network and attract new experts and organisations from across the globe.’
Professor Duncan Cameron, director of the institute for sustainable food at the University of Sheffield, said: ‘The food system is often described as a linear process from farm to fork, when in fact it is an immensely complicated network of interconnected stakeholders influenced by external factors from cultural practices to the climate crisis.
‘Over the next decade, feeding a growing population with nutritious food while restoring the natural world is one of the greatest challenges we face.
‘It will take an international network of researchers working across disciplines to develop the solutions – and I’m immensely proud that experts at the Institute for Sustainable Food will be leading this vital project.’
In November 2019, work began on a £120m greenhouse project that will reduce CO2 emissions and try to solve serious national issues of food security and agricultural reliance on fossil fuels.
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