THE Government has appointed Nicholas Saphir as the new chair of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) with effect from April 1 for a three-year term.

Mr Saphir will take over the role with AHDB from Sir Peter Kendall, who completes his second term in office at the end of March.

This is a Ministerial appointment, made by the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which has been approved by Ministers in the Scottish Government and Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive.

Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said: “Nicholas Saphir has a wealth of experience in the food and farming industry, with a diverse understanding of marketing and trade across a variety of sectors.

“I am confident he will provide the AHDB with strong leadership, clear vision and enthusiasm as the sector enters a time of change.

“I’d also like to thank Peter Kendall for his dedication to the AHDB, and the sector as a whole, over the past six years.”

Mr Saphir said: “I’m delighted to be involved with AHDB at this pivotal time of change for UK agriculture and horticulture. The AHDB has a vital role to play in helping to equip farmers, growers and processors to make the most of the opportunities and tackle the challenges that lie ahead.”

AHDB chief executive Jane King said: “Nicholas brings a wealth of agricultural and commercial experience which will be invaluable to helping AHDB strengthen its role during a significant time of change for industry. Myself and the AHDB team are really looking forward to working with him.”

Mr Saphir has a wide background in agriculture and horticulture, having built a public company farming, processing and trading fruit and vegetables in the UK, Europe, Southern Africa and South America. His dairy experience includes spending the last 18 years building the Organic Milk Producers' Cooperative (Omsco) into becoming the world’s second largest dedicated organic milk cooperative with exports of cheese, butter and infant formula grade milk powders to the USA, EU and Australasia.

He also has a long and successful record of chairing industry and government bodies in the food and farming sector, including being the chairman of the Central Council for Agricultural and Horticultural Co-operation, founder chairman of Food from Britain, president of the Fresh Produce Consortium and chairman of the Agricultural Forum.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) supported the announcement of Mr Saphir as the new AHDB chair.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: "All at NSA are pleased to welcome Nicholas into this highly influential role at a time of huge change and opportunity for the farming industry. "Nicholas’ background and extensive experience in the agricultural and horticultural sectors should be very beneficial in the work he has to do now leading the board.

"I’d like to thank outgoing chair Peter Kendall for all his input over the past six years and wish him well in whichever direction he now takes.”