Memorandum submitted by the Chairman,
East Malling Trust for Horticultural Research (D 14)
I a writing on behalf of our Trustees in connection
with the further inquiry into Horticulture Research International
(HRI) by the Agriculture Committee.
This Trust has, for the past 70 years or so,
supported horticultural research, especially that relating to
perennial crops. As owners of the 500 acre site and laboratories
for 250 personnel presently used by Horticulture Research International
at East Malling, and as contributors of approximately £650,000
annually to research, mainly at East Malling, we have an interest
in the well-being of HRI and its ability to produce research findings
for uptake by the horticulture industry.
The importance of an effective programme of
basic and strategic research to underpin more applied, development
work is well established. Historically, government has been largely
responsible for funding this basic/strategic research, through
MAFF and BBSRC, while industry has increasingly undertaken responsibility
for funding the development of this research for the benefit of
The very difficult financial position of HRI
has, to a large extent been due to the continual decline in financial
support from MAFF though, of course, failure to meet target income
from commercialisation of its research is another factor contributing
to HRI's funding shortfall.
The horticultural industry would not be able
adequately to compete internationally without a strong research
base and HRI is clearly the organisation most suited to serve
this industry. However, our experience of the situation at the
East Malling site suggests that HRI's management structure is
not the most appropriate for the efficient running of an organisation
with several dispersed sites. We believe that a more effective
site-based management than exists at present would improve research
output and contact with industry. This is a matter which we are
discussing with senior HRI management.
Despite its present difficulties, we consider
that HRI carries out much excellent research and the organisation
continues to receive our full support.
16 November 2000