Research Institute of Horticulture in Skierniewice, Poland is a governmental R&D organization supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. It was established on January 1st, 2011, by merging two research units with long tradition and great achievements in horticultural sciences: Research Institute of Pomology and Floriculture (established in 1951) and Institute of Vegetable Crops (established in 1964). The new Institute is a legal and organizational successor of its predecessors and inherited their staff and properties as well as rights and obligations.
At present, Research Institute of Horticulture employs 568 people, in that 45 professors, 85 doctors and 62 research assistants. Its research programme covers all areas related to fruit, vegetable, ornamental plant and bee sciences, from basic studies on physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology, through biotechnology, creative breeding, protection of genetic resources, agronomy, plant pathology, fruit and vegetable storage and processing, food safety, horticultural engineering, economics and marketing. Since all of the fruit and many vegetable plants are entomophilous and require bees for pollination, bee science was also included in the Institute’s programme. The Institute also takes part in several governmental research programmes on food safety, integrated and organic fruit and vegetable production, protection of genetic resources and in campaigns aimed at changing nutritional habits of the Polish consumers toward increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Due to active extension and implementation programmes and close cooperation with major stakeholders, the Institute has contributed in a large extent to the development of horticultural production in Poland.
Besides research, the Institute is also involved in commercial activities, especially in food analysis. Several Institute’s laboratories has ISO/IEC 17025 and/or GLP certificates and perform analysis (pesticide residues, heavy metals, nitrites and nitrates and mycotoxins) for food producers and wholesalers. It is estimated that Institute’s laboratories have 50% share of commercial food analysis market in Poland.
The Institute actively participates in building European Research Area. Cooperative links have been established with most of the horticultural research centres and clusters in Europe and several joint research project, co-financed by European Commission and other international organisations, were initiated. At present, the Institute is involved in four projects within 7th Framework Programme and in several others within Central European, LIFE and COST programmes and in bilateral projects financed by respective governments within agreements on cooperation in science and technology. Besides, the Institute is an active member of the European Fruit Research Institutes Network (EUFRIN). In Poland, the Institute is a coordinator of Centre of Advanced Technologies “AgroTech”, which is a cluster of three universities, two R&D Institutes and four commercial enterprises aiming at developing and implementing innovative technologies in Polish agri-food industry and of a network „Agroengineering for sustainable development of agri-food industry and rural areas”. It is also a founding member of Polish Food Technology Platform. In September 2011 the Institute has organized conference “Food and nutrition in 21st century”, which was an official event in the frame of Polish Presidency in European Union.
Institute is also an important teaching and training centre. It is authorized to conduct Ph.D. and postgraduate studies, summer schools and courses. Annually, on average five students receive Ph.D. diplomas, two D.Sc. diplomas (habilitations), and more than 700 students complete postgraduate studies and professional courses.