SEEDS have been sown for the creation of a 'world-leading' potato hub in Scotland, designed to give those working in the £200 million-plus industry instant access to expert advice.

The country’s three main knowledge, consultancy and research centres for the crop – Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the James Hutton Institute and SASA –have joined forces on the project, which is designed to drive innovation and commercialisation.

The new partnership will also aim to tackle key challenges facing the industry, including the pressure to produce more sustainably using fewer pesticides, and the market challenges post-Brexit.

Chief plant health officer for Scotland and head of SASA, Professor Gerry Saddler, said: “It is important for our organisations to work together to identify the key challenges facing potato production and markets in Scotland, as well as its value in driving innovations which meet and solve those challenges.”

Head of knowledge and innovation at SRUC, Professor Fiona Burnett, said: “This kind of approach means that research is more easily accessible to the industry. By working with partners with a commercial focus on research innovations, and through linked consultancy services, the entire potato industry can benefit.”

Her sentiments were backed by Professor Lesley Torrance, director of science at the James Hutton Institute, who said: “I see the complementarity of the large and innovative potato research programmes in Scotland, with the diagnostic, skills and training and consultancy services available across all three partners.”

The partnership’s website will be launched later in the year.