TAYSIDE'S International Barley Hub has been strengthened with new appointments to its leadership team – Professor James Brosnan has been named interim chair, while experienced farmer George Lawrie is stepping into the vice-chair role.

The IBH aims to translate scientific research into tangible impacts for all barley-related industries in the breeding, farming, malting, brewing, feed, food and health sectors. It is backed by a share of a £62m transformational Tay Cities Deal investment by the UK and Scottish Governments.

Professor Brosnan is director of research at The Scotch Whisky Research Institute and sits on the AHDB Wheat and Barley Committees and the UK Malting Barley Committee. He has a personal interest in cereal science, and as director at SWRI is also concerned with ensuring a sustainable supply of raw materials, that meet distillers’ needs, to the Scotch whisky industry.

Mr Lawrie has farming interests in the Kinross area, Perthshire, and is currently a board member of the James Hutton Institute, as well as a past board member of NFUS and past chair of the Land Use and Environment Committee. He is also on the board of The Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society and a trustee and chairman of The Royal Highland Educational Trust.

Professor Brosnan said: “As a whisky scientist I know that without barley there is no Scotch whisky! The International Barley Hub is thus a great opportunity for the barley supply chain to work together to ensure a long term, resilient supply of barley. The investment in the IBH by Scottish and UK governments as part of the Tay Cities Deal is to be welcomed as it will not only support key domestic industries and address challenging aspects of climate change mitigation but also help establish the next generation of UK cereal scientists. I look forward to working even more closely, as Interim Chairman, with the scientists and supply chain stakeholders under the IBH banner.”

Mr Lawrie added: “With barley accounting for the largest area grown in Scotland, the IBH is a major investment into a crop that is so important to the Scottish economy. This give us the chance to carry out new important research that will help growers as well as end users to achieve a more reliable product along with opening up new markets for barley. It also gives us the chance to look at emerging markets and see if we can help with more reliable traits that would allow them to achieve better yields in difficult growing conditions.”

The outgoing chair of IBH, Colin West, commented: “The progress made with the International Barley Hub over the past three years has been fantastic. Co-ordinated by a small team based at the James Hutton Institute, many organisations have worked together to demonstrate the reality of collaborative research which gives a glimpse of the potential future value to be generated by the Barley Hub and partners across the barley world.

“The solid funding promised by the UK and Scottish Governments recognises the current and ongoing importance of barley to Scotland, the UK, Europe and the world as an ingredient in human food and animal feed. It is a pleasure to see the new leadership team in place to implement the next phase of this great project.”

The IBH initiative is underpinned by the research excellence of the James Hutton Institute, University of Dundee, Scotland’s Rural College and Abertay University, the Rowett Institute and others. Businesses and sectoral interest groups such as the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, Maltsters Association of GB and the National Farmers Union Scotland form part of the demand side of the consortium.