Socio-economic work within Programme 1 places the scientific work on genetics, pathology and managed ecosystems within the wider social and economic framework in which it operates. The socio-economic activities form part of the Cross-Cutting Theme (CCT) Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability of Rural Scotland.
The following programme-wide cross-cutting socio-economic work can be identified.
Evaluation of the social and economic costs and benefits associated with targeted crop improvement and of both crop and environment management within the framework of sustainable systems
The aim is to quantify the costs and benefits (both private and public) associated with possible breeding and other management strategies. A particular feature of the work is to gain a better understanding of the actual and potential trade-offs that might occur between the various outcomes of the research programme.
For example understanding the extent of any trade-off between the yield of a particular crop and its impact on biodiversity. This highlights that the analysis undertaken for the socio-economic cross-cutting theme can be directly related to the two other CCTs, climate change and biodiversity.
Supply chain analysis
This second related, but separate, research theme seeks to develop our understanding of the supply chains for barley, potatoes and soft fruit. Through this it will be possible to develop an understanding of emerging requirements for both domestic and international markets, while recognising the different market segments.
For example in the barley market we might consider distilling, brewing, malting barley export, feed and what is required to be competitive in each. Through this analysis the implications of the business environment for the Scottish industry and varietal development will be fully identified.
We are reviewing the structure and operation of markets and their supply to help identify all market and industry features which impact on product, service and quality needs. The performance of Scottish production in relation to other international suppliers will also be identified, along with main strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Enhancing our knowledge of both the supply chain needs and the wider public’s view will enable a better understanding of the future needs for research undertaken within Scotland’s major research providers (MRPs).
Economics associated with the resilience work is central to Work Package 1.7, Sustainable Crop Systems. This largely relates to systems that include barley but the techniques and methods developed will be applicable across all the work packages.
Relationship with other socio-economic work in RERAD Programme
Work within Programme 1 is only part of the cross-cutting socio-economic work relating to crops taking place as part of the RERAD Programme. For example significant horizon scanning work for the future of the industry is planned as part of the contribution for Work Package 3.1, Sustainable Farming Systems.
This work will consider influences such as Common Agricultural Policy reform, environmental issues including biodiversity, World Trade Organization, rural development legislation, technological improvements and climate change on Scotland’s farming systems.
This will help inform the reviews undertaken in the programme on the future direction of research in this area. Similarly, in Work Package 3.8, work on wider rural issues (migration, co-operation, demand for niche foods) can all help inform the research in Programme 1.