Without urgent steps to safeguard it, the future of the horticulture sector looks bleak, says the new House of Lords report.
A new report, ‘Sowing the seeds: A blooming english horticultural sector’, published today by the cross-party House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee, says the sector is under-prioritised and underappreciated by policy makers.
The UK sector has felt the effects of rising growing material and energy costs, impacted by the current economical climate, while combating an ongoing sector-wide skill shortage.
“In the face of a cost-of-living crisis, supermarkets are battling to keep prices down, but this squeezes UK growers out of the market in favour of cheaper imports. This fundamentally threatens food security and the domestic market for ornamentals,” says Lord Redesdale, chair of the Horticultural Sector Committee.
In reports published by the HTA (Horticultural Trades Association), the ‘significant value’ of UK horticulture can contribute to helping the UK achieve its net-zero targets and environmental goals.
The HTA has welcomed the reports publication, acknowledging the inclusion for increased cross-departmental collaboration within the government to address the challenges outlined.
James Barnes, HTA chairman says: “The value of horticulture, whether in the pursuit of net-zero goals, urban cooling, biodiversity enhancement or promoting health and wellbeing, is celebrated throughout this report. It is now imperative for government officials and policymakers to fully embrace, champion, and initiate the necessary actions for the sector not only to survive but to thrive.
“We urge the government to seize this opportunity, utilise the insights from the report, and ensure that horticulture becomes a vital policy solution that transcends multiple departments. In short, it’s time to turn words into action and cultivate a brighter, greener future for all.”
The report calls on the government to take the ‘urgent steps’ needed to safeguard the future of horticulture, helping to deliver its value.
These steps include a need to make good on its commitment to publish a Horticulture Strategy for England to set direction for the sector.
Putting horticulture on the curriculum to facilitate early exposure to the sector among the next generation to “secure the skills pipeline.”
Delivering additional support to amateur and professional growers to support them in the “transition towards more environmentally friendly practices.”
Lord Redesdale concludes that “with the confidence and support of Government, the horticulture sector can realise its limitless potential.”