We are very pleased to welcome Professor David Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of UEA, as the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Associations President for 2016-2017.
Please read his vision for this year as RNAA president:
I’m passionate about Norfolk. I have lived and worked here for 25 years and while the county is rightly known to many as an idyllic destination for holidays, with its beautiful countryside and stunning coastline, it also has a history of radical thought and innovation. Thomas Paine, father of the American Revolution, Harriet Martineau, sociologist and writer, and Elizabeth Fry, prison reformer with a family home on what is now the UEA campus, all originate from our county. They are all famed for their independence of thought and original thinking.
Agriculture is where Norfolk has arguably led innovations for hundreds of years. ‘Turnip Townshend’ and ‘Coke of Holkham’ were pioneers of agricultural innovation in the 17th and 18th centuries and we continue to see new innovations being demonstrated every year at the Royal Norfolk Show that show the same vision and spirit of enterprise that made the county a powerhouse of the first agricultural revolution.
Norfolk is well placed to continue leading and innovating in agriculture. Back in the time of Lord Townshend, it was said he was inspired to innovate by the sight of two rabbits fighting over a blade of grass on one of his fields. Nowadays, the challenges of food security are some of the greatest facing our planet. I don’t think it is a leap of the imagination to see Norfolk, with its national and international partners, as a leader of efforts to find innovative solutions to such problems.
For all of these reasons, I am very proud to be President of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) at such a momentous time in its history. From my perspective as the Vice-Chancellor of UEA, a member of the Norwich Research Park and Chair of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Innovation Board, I believe we need to stimulate a new generation of innovators for the agricultural sector.
The RNAA‘s YIELD network is a great example of a hub for knowledge-sharing and innovation for younger people working across agriculture and I believe we also need to focus more on engaging with today’s secondary school students who will be tomorrow’s university students.
We need to think imaginatively about innovative degree programmes we can develop with regional partners that address integrated issues around contemporary agriculture, including crop development, soil science, food, energy & water security; climate change, business, economics, engineering, precision farming and agri-tech.
Also critical to our future is a new generation of university students that will help fuel a new innovation revolution in Norfolk. At present at UEA, we have 15,000 students who are arguably at the most innovative phase of their lives. If we can provide an environment where that creativity, original thinking and entrepreneurial spirit can flourish, it will flourish to the benefit of Norfolk.”