15th June 2011, 3:58pm
Bursary to encourage future crop of food experts
pea pods The UK’s national centre for research into legume crops is working with the University of Lincoln to encourage future generations of producers by offering a bursary to undergraduate students.

The Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO) has established the Geoffrey Gent bursary to assist selected applicants onto the BSc (Hons) Agriculture and Environmental Management programme which is based at the University’s Riseholme campus.

PGRO is the UK centre for applied research into temperate peas, beans and other legumes. Established in 1944, it provides UK growers and agronomists with independent, well researched, practical agronomy advice on growing legumes and other field vegetables.

Chief Executive of the PGRO, Salvador Potter, said: “At a time when food production, quality and provenance are crucial concerns, there is an identified shortage of suitably qualified agronomists entering the arable crops industry for both the technical and commercial roles required.

“The aim of the bursary is to encourage young people to widen their knowledge of arable crops generally and the role of protein crops specifically, and to expand their knowledge to the benefit of the wider sector.”

The bursary coincides with the launch of the BSc (Hons) Agriculture and Environmental Management programme by the University, in response to national concerns about the future of the UK’s farming and food security. The course was devised  in consultation with employers following studies by Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for environmental and land-based industries, which identified a significant skills gap in the sector due to the ageing workforce and increased demands of technology.

The aim of the programme is to provide graduates with a well-grounded understanding of the fundamental sciences of plants, animals, soils and global processes.  These underpin the management of sustainable production systems whilst recognising the socio-economic and environmental contexts required by society.

The bursary is named after Geoffrey Gent, who was CEO of the PGRO from 1984 until retirement in 2007. Upon his retirement, the legume industry (growers and processors), raised more than £25,000 to support of both travel and education projects to be administered by the PGRO Board of Trustees in the future.

Successful applicants for the bursary will receive an amount to be spent on travel, living expenses and supporting academic studies and their first year of the course. They will also have the opportunity to take part in activities with the Processors and Growers Research Organisation.

For more information on the PGRO visit www.pgro.org. Catch the University of Lincoln team at Cereals – the arable event - at Boothby Heath this week on stand C458.
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