Perhaps the most important export of the island of Jersey,
located off the coast of France, is the Jersey Royal Potato: a classic example
of a product utterly intertwined with its place of origin. The potatoes are
worth millions of pounds to Jersey, and so what happens when something goes
Since traditional nematocides have been dropping off the
market like the nematodes they used to kill, thanks to their being deemed too
hazardous for use on farmland, Jersey has faced an increasing problem of potato
cyst nematodes (PCN) reducing crop yields and product quality. It would appear
that the only solution is to try and starve the nematodes out of the soil,
which can take up to 7 years, with no potatoes or related species being grown
in the meantime.
Jersey’s Department of Environment got in touch with NNFCC
to investigate opportunities to grow alternative crops on their land alongside
potatoes, in an attempt to break the pest cycle by offering traditional growers
an equally high-value option. Fields in Jersey tend to be much smaller than elsewhere,
export costs are high, machinery is typically small and reliance on manual
labour is high; hence the emphasis was on high value, low volume crops. NNFCC performed thorough investigations into various non-food crops: into their feasibility for growing on Jersey, but also into their potential value for the island. Eventually, a suite of speciality oil crops was chosen, in addition to an entire value chain being proposed that would not only produce the oil but convert it into cosmetics and healthcare products on the island. This made the proposition very lucrative for the island (who, understandably, wanted to keep their identity closely linked with the end product, much like the potatoes it would replace).
This end result was very pleasing to Jersey, to the point where they have enshrined it in their 2017 Rural Economy Strategy, making, amongst other statements, the following policy recommendation:
“The Government of Jersey should continue research on diversifying into high value crops and processing methods for supplying alternative markets and begin field scale trials.
Subsequently, a second investigation was commissioned in
order to find other potential value chains, of a similar ilk, but this time
with food crops being considered. After considering several possible outlets,
including “superfoods”, the eventual decision was to grow tea. NNFCC then acted
as mediator, putting Jersey in touch with the Scottish Tea Growers’
Association, and now Jersey’s first ever tea plantation is set to start growing
later this year.
Lucy Hopwood, NNFCC Director says,
“NNFCC is delighted to work with Jersey’s government and their farming community, and we hope this relationship continues to flourish in the future. We are particularly pleased that our work has been recognised in the new Rural Economy Strategy and are excited by the drive and enthusiasm of growers to put these plans into action.”
Lucy also commented “What Jersey have is really quite niche in branding and marketing terms, so it was important we identified opportunities which would enable this to continue or even develop further. The fact that the first tea plantation will be established this year, so soon after our latest research was presented to the Government and the farming community, clearly reflects their need and willingness to adopt new practices. It is genuinely refreshing to see immediate action being taken without being held back by the political or regulatory process we typically face.”
A case study of our project with Jersey can be found here
The project was also written about in Jersey Country Life
magazine, issue 16, page 60-61.
For more information:
article was written by Bob Horton, Research Analyst at NNFCC, and Lucy Hopwood,
Lead Consultant for Bioenergy and Anaerobic Digestion at NNFCC.
Notes to Editors
NNFCC is a specialist bioeconomy consultancy based in York, the UK. Established by the UK government in 2003 as the National Non-Food Crops Centre, NNFCC has grown to become a leading independent consultancy focused on understanding biorenewable markets and technologies. They provide global clients with a holistic view of feedstock, technology, policy and market development across the bioeconomy, enabling informed business decisions and sustainable business strategies. NNFCC also provides technical, market and policy expertise on the conversion of biomass and waste to bioenergy, biofuels and biobased products to the UK government. See more at http://www.nnfcc.co.uk.
About the Island State of Jersey
Jersey is an island located in the English Channel near the French coast. Jersey is a British Crown Dependency, and is defended and internationally represented by the UK government. However, Jersey is self-governing and has it own financial and legal systems and its own courts of law. More info can be found on the Jersey Government website.
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