Sugar Industry Programme: Our experiences

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Now in its eleventh year, the Sugar Industry Programme will shortly be re-launched for its 2021/22 scheme. Run jointly by NFU Sugar and British Sugar, the programme provides an opportunity for sugar beet growers and industry professionals alike to learn more about the wider homegrown sugar industry and take part in training and development.

In advance of applications opening for this year, we spoke to two alumni of the programme about their experiences and how it has helped them in their careers so far.

Rob Daniel – agronomist and sugar beet grower

Rob is based in Yorkshire and participated in the 2018/19 Programme.

Rob said: “Taking part in the Sugar Industry Programme was certainly an experience that I would recommend to anyone wanting to further their insight into the industry. From the people you meet to the visits and trips you attend as part of the programme, there are plenty of new experiences for everybody.

“The visits were all extremely interesting in their own way and they all had plenty of take-home points, and there was certainly plenty to learn. The trip to British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) was a highlight for me with my keen interest in agronomy and seeing the latest research being carried out on getting the best output from our crops. The trip to seed breeder KWS’s HQ in Germany was very interesting, not only to see the latest seed technology working but also to get an insight into European beet industry and how it differs from here in the UK. The work there carried out in the vast glasshouses was very interesting and the seed pelleting plant was excellent.

“Aside from all the valuable knowledge you gain about the sugar beet industry, the opportunity to attend both the NFU Conference and have a trip round Westminster really do set this programme apart giving participants the opportunity to speak with policy makers and influencers that I don’t believe you would get the chance to do elsewhere.

“Taking part in the SIP is definitely something you should try as you get to experience and learn about plenty of new things that you just wouldn’t have the chance to do elsewhere. The insight you get into the industry as a whole I believe is fantastic and besides the well organised trips it is a great chance to meet new like-minded people and make lasting friendships and contacts within the industry.”

Stef Hendy – Senior Contract Manager in British Sugar’s Bury St Edmunds Agriculture team

Stef was a SIP delegate in 2017/18.

Stef said: “Ever since I joined British Sugar, I was keen to take part in the Sugar Industry Programme but there was a 3-year waiting list! Although I’m speaking to sugar beet growers every day in my role, the scheme helped me to gain an appreciation for the wide range of roles across our industry – from land agents to hauliers – and it was really valuable to spend time with these industry partners and learn more about their work.

“I particularly remember our visit to the British Beet Research Organisation in Norwich and seeing first-hand how they carry out aphid testing to identify a range of diseases that could impact the sugar beet crop. It really gave me an understanding of the scale of the task.

“As a British Sugar delegate, I also found attending the NFU Conference really useful to broaden my knowledge and help bring me up to date with the issues the wider agriculture sector was facing at the time. It was also a fantastic networking opportunity, and I enjoyed our meeting with Minette Batters, who had just been elected NFU President at the time.

“I would definitely recommend taking part in SIP. There are so many knowledgeable people across the sugar sector whose experience you can learn from, and the programme gives you an opportunity to have an impact on the industry.”

Applications open soon

Applications for the 2021/22 Sugar Industry Programme will be open on the 1 August.

If you would like to take part, keep an eye on the British Sugar and NFU Sugar websites and social media for details on how to apply.