Tom Taylor, CEO of the AHDB

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) says it spent nearly £3 million more on direct levy payer activities for the year ending March 2013 than in the previous year.

In its annual report, the board said 87.5p in every pound of its total income of £64.5 million was invested in frontline support for its levy payers.

Tom Taylor, CEO of the AHDB, claimed that almost one third of its total income was invested across 39 different research and development projects, including a science project looking into ways of developing insecticide resistance to the peach-potato aphid pest. He explained: “Our cross-sector commitment to industry innovation was firmly demonstrated by the fact £22.1 million, more than one third of AHDB’s income, was invested in research and putting associated on-farm science into practice, in 2012-13.

“Many of these projects are featured in the report but one example is that of our three crop divisions sharing the cost of a project on insecticide resistance management in the peach-potato aphid – each sector will benefit from the work but for a third of the cost to each levy of doing it alone.”

Meanwhile, the levy board also cited its work on the Feeding the Future report,alongside the likes of theNFU and the Royal Agricultural Society of England, as part of the recommendations for the government's agri-tech strategy, as well as its funding of export projects, which have helped to increase the level of potato exports for UK growers, as its highlights of the year.

Taylor added: “Through our £4.4 million programme of targeted export development work, AHDB played a key role in helping UK agri-businesses secure greater rewards overseas – international trade was valued at more than £5.5 billion in 2012, for areas includingpotatoes. This represents around 46 per cent of total UK food and drink exports.'