The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine of Ireland, Michael Creed, TD, announced awards of almost €20 million in funding across 38 research projects arising from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s 2019 Competitive Call for Research.
Announcing the awards today the Minister said that “Innovation is a key pillar of FoodWise 2025 and this investment today is aimed at keeping Irish Agri to the forefront of innovation delivering on environmental sustainability, competitiveness and the bio-economy’’. The Minister added that ‘‘a particularly positive aspect of the Research Awards is the all-island dimension with Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Island (DAERA NI) providing up to additional €1.5 million in funding to Northern Island based institutions involved in the research projects.
He continued that ‘’many of the successful research projects have a particular focus on the sustainable use of natural resources or the use of new technologies to enable climate smart and sustainable food production and processing, the 38 projects funded covering a range of topics across sustainable production, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), agri-environmental mitigation, animal breeding and welfare, food processing and forestry”.
A number of supported projects will investigate agri-environment, including measures to promote sustainable production in crop and animal systems, protecting waterways, soils and improving nutrient management from farmland, as well as projects to further understand biodiversity and ecosystem services found in agricultural landscapes. These will importantly help us deliver on our environmental obligations and also on consumer demand for sustainable production. There are a number of projects that will look at nutrition and consumption patterns, longer-term dietary sustainability and new product or process development with health or environmental benefits.
Food safety remains an important focus of DAFM Research Awards with supported research aimed at assessing and eliminating any emerging risks from changing production, processing or consumer practices. With the increased emphasis on bio-economy, the need to reduce food waste and add value there is an interesting project aimed at developing compostable packaging material and another examining the potential of native Irish grown grains in the brewing and distilling sector.
There are also several projects focused on the forest sector and its triple carbon benefit, encouraging carbon sequestration in forests, long life storage of carbon in timber products and the displacement of high embedded energy materials. Other projects are enhancing the environmental benefits and other ecosystem services of the forest sector.
A total of 17 Irish Research Performing Organisations will benefit from the awards announced to-day, including Teagasc, the Universities and the Institutes of Technology. The investment across all 38 projects will provide higher education opportunities for 90 postgraduate students in the form of PhDs (55) and Masters degrees (35) as well as contract position for postdoctoral and other researchers (75).
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Island (DAERA NI) are providing up to €1.5 million in funding to Northern Island based institutions such as AFBI, QUB and UU who are participating as either leads or partners on eight of the successful projects. An additional 4 projects are to be cofunded through the EPA covering climate and environment.
The Minister concluded that ‘’ the total investment by both DAFM and DAERA of over €21 million in human capital and the advancing of scientific knowledge and expertise is a significant contribution to innovation and sustainability in the agri-food sector on the Island of Ireland. It adds to the €150 million committed by my Department to national and international agri-food research programmes over the period 2012-2018.”