A University of Nottingham PhD student and arable farmer is to showcase his unique new crop on the BBC’s popular Sunday evening programme ’Countryfile’ this weekend.
Stephen Jones from Shropshire is doing a PhD in crop science at the University’s School of Biosciences at Sutton Bonington. Alongside his studies at the University, Stephen established The British Quinoa Company which now produces British grown quinoa on his family’s farm and currently holds the exclusive UK rights to grow the only quinoa varieties bred for the European climate.
It has taken Stephen many years of on-farm research to get his production practices right and is now in his second year of full scale commercial production.
Quinoa is a nutty-tasting, high protein, gluten free grain which originates from South America and until now has been difficult to grow commercially in Northern European climates. Stephen’s smart business plan to exclusively grow and sell British quinoa was a winner in the University’s Student Venture Challenge last year.
Now, BBC TV’s Countryfile has visited Stephen on his farm near Ellesmere to find out how he has been experimenting with quinoa production and developed a good practice for growing the crop commercially in the British climate. Stephen is now the exclusive provider of the grain to famous chains like Pret-A-Manger and his family business is launching its own range of products this autumn after harvest.
Stephen said: “Countryfile has been a fantastic way for us to raise the profile of this new British grain and we hope to have a large increase in our production area over the next few years to satisfy a rapidly growing market”
Stephen’s PhD work at Nottingham has helped his business by unravelling the mysteries of how differences in plant physiology can help a crop adapt to a new environment. Specifically in his research he is aiming to identify physiological traits in wheat that are able to confer passive resistance to a wheat disease, Fusarium Head Blight (FHB).
Countryfile’s report on Stephen and his unique arable adventure is due to feature in this Sunday’s programme, 24th August 2014, at 8pm on BBC One.
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