31 March 2016 – Today sees the launch of a new Centre for Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) under the government’s Agri-Tech strategy, which was launched in 2013 to ensure that its investment in agriculture delivers material benefits for society and the economy in the UK and overseas. CHAP will lead the way in developing solutions to the challenges facing world agriculture, bringing together the best expertise, knowledge and insight from leading research organisations and industries in the sector. This collaboration between academia and industry will, for the first time, give farmers access to the best and most sustainable technologies, strategies and protocols to improve crop performance, making a real difference at the farm gate.

CABI is a consortium partner of CHAP. The CHAP mission fits closely with CABI’s own goal to improve people’s lives by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. CABI is involved in a number of aspects of CHAP, including horizon scanning for potential new threats to the UK food supply chain. Funding is being used to launch Plantwise eClinics in key countries that supply food to UK supermarkets. The first CHAP-supported eClinics will be launched in 2016 in Ghana – a country that provides the UK with cocoa.

CABI will also be looking for opportunities to use the next generation of natural pesticides – or biopesticides – to treat existing and emerging pests and diseases affecting crops grown by farmers in the UK and beyond. CABI will screen its Genetic Resources Collection, as well as collect new fungal and other samples from the field, for testing in the UK. This will help CABI build a database of pathogens – bacteria and fungi – that affect key UK crops, and enable new and emerging pathogens to be detected at the earliest opportunity.

CHAP has secured £21.3 million of government investment over four years and will be headquartered at the National Agri-Food Innovation campus at Sand Hutton near York. CHAP’s consortium partners include Bayer CropScience, Farmcare, Frontier Agriculture, Dow AgroSciences, Tesco, Stockbridge Technology and Unilever, alongside AHDB, CABI, Cranfield University, FERA Science Ltd, Newcastle University, ADAS, The Met Office, Warwick University, Campden BRI and Rothamsted Research. CHAP will enable these organisations, alongside retailers, processors, agronomists and manufacturers, to share resources, optimise return on research and development costs, reduce waste and accelerate the registration process for new products.

Interim CEO of CHAP Ltd, Dr Andrew Swift, said, “CHAP will establish the UK as a world-leader in agri-technology, innovation and sustainability. It will create an environment that encourages the exchange of leading edge knowledge, resulting in greater innovation and wider access to the best available technologies and solutions. By taking science to the farm, CHAP will help farmers, growers and the food industry to improve yield, reduce costs and meet the need for sustainable solutions to present and future challenges.”

For further information about CHAP, please see Farming Futures or email

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