One of the most creative and inspiring tasks of the year is planning our annual REAP conference.
Choosing the theme relevant to all members of the community, assembling the programme and then identifying a cohort of high quality speakers from our network to give talks around a series of sessions are key to delivering our flagship activity.
The Producers Panel was a popular feature of our first REAP conference. Three of our most progressive growers articulated the challenges that they were facing in the field, and post-harvest, and were able to give an economic cost to their businesses of these problems.
For example Richard Hirst explained that the thrashing mechanism of the pea harvester meant a 10-15% of his yield each year was lost before the crop even left the field. It would be easy to make a business case for improving the design of this equipment and this user input could be invaluable to the right entrepreneur.
This year we again have a producers panel but we are balancing this with a panel of technologists and engineers. For them the challenges in agri-food present a business opportunity. They have successfully developed solutions in other markets and are looking to see if they can be applied to this new market.
Listening to the producers and understanding their requirements is an essential first step.
We know from the Pollinator events that bringing together people from different disciplines can spark some exciting collaborations and innovations. By creating a cluster of highly motivated individuals with the desire and enthusiasm to do something beyond the ordinary then together we can solve some of the intractable problems that have dogged farming for many years.
The programme for ‘REAP: Resilience through innovation’ is now available and we have details of the speakers and panellists. We are sure that the sessions will generate some robust discussions and create productive networking opportunities. We look forward to your active participation.