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Coveney Announces Major Grant Awards of €26 million for Agri-food, Marine and Forest Research Projects

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, today announced award’s of over €26m for agri-food and forestry collaborative research projects being undertaken by researchers from institutions across the island of Ireland.

The Minister said “the agri-food and marine sectors have proven in recent years that they have the capacity to drive our economy through increased employment, value added and export growth and this announcement today of major funding for 51 projects will further build and maintain research capacity and capability in the industry. These awards will also provide training for over 80 post-graduate students and contract employment for almost 90 highly trained scientists all of which will be at the disposal of academia, regulators and the food industry going forward.”

The grants being awarded today re-affirm the Department’s on-going financial commitment to research and development. It’s primarily aimed at underpinning the sustainable and competitive production and processing of both livestock and crops derived food, including seafood, as well as research to mitigate the environmental impact of agricultural and forestry operations. The projects supported cover a broad range of activities that include:

  • improving the feeding, fertility and health of dairy and beef cattle;
  • protecting and improving the quality of soil;
  • addressing climate change;
  • controlling Septoria disease in wheat;
  • abatement of ammonia emissions in agriculture;
  • food safety at farm and processor level;
  • applying novel processing technologies to fish;
  • identifying and enhancing the health properties of food and improving productivity of farming operations.

Several of the projects deal with the health aspect of food including foods for optimal brain health, marine peptides for glycemic management, and analysis of nutrition databases for public health policy and new product development.

The Minister reiterated his commitment to targeted research and innovation within the agri-food sector by stating "The importance of continued investment in excellent science for Ireland’s agri-food sector cannot be understated. Investing in research is a central part of the Food Harvest 2020 strategy. Indeed, it is also a central part of this Government’s Action Plan for Jobs insofar as it ensures that scientific research is better targeted at turning the good ideas of our talented researchers into new products and processes and ultimately high quality jobs.” He added that “these awards build on the significant additional commitments made by the Department over the last 12 months”.

The Minister acknowledged the role of industry, both in terms of providing samples for testing and also the participation of key industry personnel on project stakeholder advisory groups. He stated “As always, Industry participation is crucial to ensure that the research remains relevant to end user needs".