Evaluation of the Transforming Food Production (TFP) Challenge Programme

The UK’s agricultural sector has a key role to play in reaching the UK’s net zero targets by 2050. The sector accounts for 11% of the UK’s total GHG emissions, and faces longstanding productivity challenges compared to its international competitors. More recently, structural challenges in the sector have been compounded by external shocks (Covid, energy crisis and inflation) and the transition following the UK’s exit from the EU. Together, these challenges have accelerated labour supply issues, squeezed already tight margins, and increased food security pressures. Encouraging the adoption of new innovations in agriculture – both at pace and scale – is therefore essential to address these challenges. The UK is well positioned to respond, with its world-class research and innovation expertise in agritech, but has struggled to translate this into improvements on the ground.

In response, the Transforming Food Production (TFP) programme was announced in 2017. TFP set an ambitious goal “to accelerate the development and adoption of integrated precision approaches that will improve the productivity and resilience of primary food production systems and, at the same time, to set the sector on a trajectory to net zero emissions by 2040”. 

SQW led a four year evaluation of the programme for UKRI. The work included the development of an evaluation framework, a baseline, process and progress evaluation, and a final impact evaluation which is available here. SQW worked closely with UKRI throughout the process, and the evaluation findings helped to inform both the programme’s ongoing implementation and Defra’s subsequent Farming Innovation Programme.