27th August 2020 - Page 54

NOVEMBER 23 2017
Global News
HE Mediterranean black truffle, one of the
world’s most expensive ingredients, has
been successfully cultivated in the UK, as
climate change threatens its native habitat.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge
and Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd (MSL) say the
black truffle they produced is the farthest
north the species has ever been found.
It was grown in Monmouthshire, Wales, 65km
northeast of Cardiff.
After nine years of waiting, the truffle
harvested in March was found by a trained dog
named Bella. It was growing within the root
system of a Mediterranean oak tree planted in
“We planted the trees just to monitor
their survival, but we never thought this
grow in the UK – it’s an incredibly exciting
development,” MSL researcher Paul Thomas
says in a statement.
The Périgord black truffle (Tuber
melanosporum) is one of the most expensive
Hal Crowe
Expensive ingredient cultivated in UK
delicacies in the world, worth £1,700 (R31,610)
a kg.
Prized for their intense flavour and aroma,
they are difficult and time-consuming to grow
and harvest, and are normally confined to
regions with a Mediterranean climate.
But that Mediterranean habitat has been
affected by drought due to long-term climate
change, and yields are falling while the global
demand rises. The truffle industry is projected
to be worth £4.5 billion (R83.7 billion) annually
in the next 10-20 years.
Black truffles grow in a symbiotic relationship
with the root system of trees in soils with high
limestone content. They are found mostly in
northern Spain, southern France and northern
Italy, where they are sniffed out by trained
dogs or pigs.
Prof Ulf Büntgen of Cambridge’s Department
of Geography says while they can form
naturally, many truffles are cultivated by
inoculating oak or hazelnut seedlings with
spores and planting them in chalky soils. Even
with cultivation, there is no guarantee they will
“It’s a risky investment for farmers – even
though humans have been eating truffles for
centuries, we know remarkably little about
how they grow and how they interact with their
host trees,” Büntgen says.
The researchers attribute the fact black
truffles can grow so far north to climate change.
“It’s likely that it’s only possible because of
climate change, and some areas of the UK –
including the area around Cambridge – now
are suitable for the cultivation of this species,”
Thomas says.
RIGHT: Bella, the dog that found the first UK black
truffle, next to the host tree. (Photo: Paul Thomas)
Trans-Pacific trade deal far
cry from ‘deal in principle’
CALCULATED: Avalon Ultimate, the first sheep breed in the world
to have breeding values calculated for tail length and bare skin on the
tail. (Photo: Avalon Genetics)
Success as NZ reaches
end of eight-year sheep
breeding programme
FTER eight years of
breeding, New Zealand’s
Allan Richardson lays
claim to the first sheep breed
in the world to have breeding
values calculated for tail
length and bare skin on the
Richardson, of Avalon Genetics
in Otago, says the result
is the Avalon Ultimate, a
sheep marketed as a high
performance, low input animal
with Texel and Perendale
With most of their land
between 1,300 and 1,640 feet
altitude, the sheep experience
cold wet winters with several
“This year, only a quarter of
our ultimate lambs have been
docked. Our aim is to have a
whole flock that doesn’t need
[to be] drenched, dagged or
docked,” Richardson tells
“These new SIL breeding
values will allow us to speed
up our breeding programme
for producing sheep with short
bare tails that don’t need [to
be] docked.”
Richardson began the project
after researcher David Scobie
at the AgResearch Institute
found tail length was a
heritable trait of up to 0.8 per
He says his flock produced
6,000 Ultimate lambs in 2017
and he is getting close to not
having to dag or dock any of
the flock. Wool grows on their
tails, but it peels off, leaving
bare skin.
Key traits of Avalon’s Ultimate
sheep are: High fertility,
survival, meat and growth
for both maternal/terminal
options; Bare breech and belly
minimize dagging and shearing
costs; Short bare tails don’t
need docked, require less
dagging and reduce flystrike;
No docking means less costs,
less animal and people stress,
mis-mothering and improved
animal welfare; Strong
parasite resistance and facial
eczema tolerance; Less animal
welfare challenges before and
during lambing.
“We know genetically that
in a high input traditional
system our sheep are ranked
in the top five per cent of New
Zealand genetics,” Richardson
says on his website. “In a
low input system, we believe
our genetics are 40-per-cent
to 60-per-cent better than
comparable worm resistant
EMBERS of the TransPacific Partnership have
agreed a new framework
to revive the proposed
trade deal, now called
the Comprehensive and Progressive
Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
But it is a far cry from the “deal in
principle” Japan declared 24 hours
earlier, before Canadian Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau put the brakes on.
Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo
told reporters an agreement had been
reached between all 11 trade ministers.
“That agreement was for a substantial
conclusion around the TPP11, on that
basis we made a recommendation to
the leaders to take the TPP11 forward,”
he said. “In between that meeting and
the meeting of leaders, Prime Minister
Trudeau raised a number of issues.”
As a result, the 11 countries released
a joint statement simply saying they are
committed to free and open trade, with
Canada asserting there was agreement
on ‘core elements’ of a trade deal.
Analysts quickly saw the thinking
behind the Canadian move – Ottawa
fears the unstable reaction of US
President Donald Trump could impact
North American Free Trade Agreement
A massive gap has emerged between
the US and its two NAFTA partners,
Canada and Mexico.
Washington wants higher US content
in automobiles and wants an end to
LEFT: Canadian Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau has cold feet on TPP. (Canadian
government photo)
Canada’s supply management system
in agriculture.
University of Ottawa law professor
Michael Geist said in Twitter posts the
TPP could influence Canada’s success
in the NAFTA talks.
“My guess would be the NAFTA
talks make concessions on auto and
agriculture incredibly difficult as TPP
could undermine those negotiations,”
Geist tweeted.
The impasse in the NAFTA negotiations had US Agriculture Secretary
Sonny Perdue telling Washington
reporters the White House is
developing a contingency plan should
Trump withdraw from NAFTA.
“We’re talking with the administration
and with Congress about how we could
protect our producers with that safety
net, based on prices that may respond
very negatively to any kind of NAFTA
withdrawal,” Purdue said.
At a news conference in Omaha,
Perdue was asked about Trump
repeating his threat to withdraw from
“The President has a unique negotiating style,” he said. “I believe that
his instincts are great in the past, based
on his own success. We are continuing
to educate the administration over
the benefits of agreements like NAFTA
from an agricultural perspective.”
Purdue said he’s hopeful of an
successfully negotiated,” he said.
“There are probably going to be some
nervous months in the meantime.”
But Washington reports say Trump
will give the six months’ notice of the
US withdrawal early next year after
negotiators gave up on the December
target for an agreement.
The negotiators are adding two days
to talks in Mexico City, beginning
November 15 with American farmers
say quitting NAFTA would be
Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan) told the US
Chamber of Commerce that NAFTA
gives farmers a reliable market: “Over
the course of the NAFTA agreement, US
agricultural exports have increased to
Canada by 265 per cent and to Mexico
by 289 per cent,” he said.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst post-Brexit
HDB’s annual Grain Market Outlook conference
underlined the pervasive influence of Brexit on the future
of the UK cereals and oilseeds industry.
Opening last week’s conference, themed around getting
ready for a post-Brexit marketplace, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds
chairman Paul Temple acknowledged the tough reality of the
challenges faced by the industry.
But he expressed confidence the industry could ride the wave
of change by resisting the temptation to wait and see, instead
urging farmers to understand the potential challenges and
adapt accordingly.
Mr Temple said: “We are in an exciting period of history. It’s
really easy to feel lost and inclined to sit back and see what
happens but Brexit success will be about facing and managing
change and, most definitely, about being competitive.”
The event, held at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London, saw
the launch of AHDB’s most recent Horizon analysis – Brexit
scenarios: an impact assessment – which paints a challenging
picture for UK cereals producers in a range of possible trade
and policy scenarios, particularly if they fail to address
productivity issues.
AHDB Senior Analyst Sarah Baker, who co-authored the report,
said: “There is a lot out of growers’ control but if they focus on
the things they can control in their businesses, this should be
a good strategy to get ready for Brexit and not only survive but
Closing the conference, AHDB Strategy Director for Cereals
& Oilseeds Dr Martin Grantley-Smith said: “The results of our
analysis don’t make comfortable listening for cereals and
oilseeds specialists.
“While it concentrates on the impact on farm businesses, it is
relevant to all businesses in the supply chain as it affects the
UK supply base.
“There are solutions, particularly within supply chains, to
manage market volatility. But we are concerned the industry is
slow to accept the change around Brexit and equally to grasp
the opportunities it presents.”
Videos will be available on AHDB Cereal & Oilseeds’ YouTube
channel in a couple of weeks. All AHDB’s Horizon reports are
available to download at www.ahdb.org.uk/brexit


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