A NEW multi-million pound research centre could help solve world hunger problems.

The plans to make York a major centre for agricultural excellence were announced this week, and welcomed in Parliament on Monday by MP for York Outer, Julian Sturdy.

Mr Sturdy said the best way to increase production and boost yields was to invest in new technology, and highlighted the £11m food science campus at Sand Hutton, the £8m BioVale initiative at the University of York and the £1m investment in Askham Bryan College as a step forward.

He said: "I am delighted by today’s announcement that the hard work of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding local enterprise partnership has paid off.

"We have to be upfront about the fact that it will remain a challenge to feed the growing global population. However, such investment demonstrates the Government’s commitment to meeting that rising challenge."

Mr Sturdy, who has worked with several farming ministers and Local Enterprise Partnerships on raising the profile of Yorkshire's farming expertise, said global food production needed to be advanced to cope with the ever increasing population, and the investments would help increase production and sales of British products.

Mr Sturdy said: "The UK is currently 68 per cent self-sufficient in terms of food that can be produced here. Sadly, there has been a steady decline in that level over the past 20 years. Nearly a quarter of the food that is eaten in the UK is imported, when it could be produced here.

"The decline is not irreversible, as has been shown in the fresh fruit market, where the growth is driven largely by demand. British shoppers want to buy British produce and back British farmers, especially in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. According to a recent NFU survey, 78 per cent of shoppers believe that supermarkets should sell more British produce."