The International Barley Hub Field Centre at the James Hutton Institute was officially opened by UK Government Minister for Scotland, Malcolm Offord.
The £62 million International Barley Hub, comprised of several developments including the Field Centre, has been funded through the Tay Cities Region Deal partnership and marks a major milestone in establishing Scotland as a leader in global food security and crop resilience.
Barley is the most predominant crop grown in Scotland, and supports 40,000 jobs north of the UK border, largely due to its key role in the world-renowned Scottish whisky industry.
Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive at James Hutton Institute, said: “The investment by the Tay Cities Region Deal in the International Barley Hub at our campus is acknowledgement of our pioneering research in barley science and recognition of the huge role this crop plays in Scotland’s economy.
“Securing the resilience of barley is critical to the future of our global food and drink chains, particularly for our whisky industry. It is a proud moment to welcome Lord Offord, along with other special guests, to the opening of the International Barley Hub Field Station today which marks another step in this hugely important development, not just for the Institute but for the local area and Scotland itself”.
Demand for the crop has grown in recent years, due to £2bn of investment in national distillery infrastructure, growth in the craft beer sector and increased whisky sales. However, research from the James Hutton Institute has found it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet this demand, due to adverse weather conditions reducing barley yields, changes in pesticide bans and crop management challenges.
Speaking of the opening, UK Government Minister for Scotland, Malcolm Offord said: "The UK Government is proud to invest £20m in the International Barley Hub at the James Hutton Institute. The project will not only bring great benefits to our fantastic food and drink industry, it will also directly benefit our economy, creating jobs and helping us achieve long-term growth.
“The wonderful work that will be undertaken here at the IBH is testament to the vast research and development skills that we have in abundance here and how they can be used to boost prosperity for the good of the local area, for Scotland and for the whole of the UK.”
The International Barley Hub (IBH) will promote scientific discovery and innovation to tackle these issues, as well as piloting new technologies for crop management, such as precision agriculture sensors and drones.
Investment in the IBH is also expected to generate over £105m benefit to the UK over the next 30 years, nearly £60m of which will be in Scotland. It will also generate 1,281 full-time jobs in Scotland, increasing to 1,838 FTE jobs in the UK after 10 years.
George Lawrie, experienced farmer and chair of The International Barley Hub, commented: "The International Barley Hub is a world-class, contemporary innovation hub driving research excellence, and through my extensive agricultural and framing experience I see this development is an essential tool to support cereal growers, brewers, distillers, and new business in Tayside.
“It will also enhance the production of premium quality barley by focusing on the whole barley supply and value chain, delivering a step change in barley research capability with modern facilities, better equipment.”
The James Hutton Institute also welcomed Councillor John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council at the celebration.