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Winners of The Dairymaster Rural Innovation Awards Announced

The winners of the Dairymaster innovation awards organised in association with DARD, Irish Farmers Journal and Teagasc, were announced in Tralee this week.

The awards recognise rural innovations and the overall winner was Recovery Haven Kerry- Cancer Support House, Tralee, Co Kerry. They were also the winners of the Community Innovation category.

Recovery Haven Kerry- Cancer Support House, are based at St Martin's Aughamore, Causeway, Tralee, Co Kerry. Eileen Comerford of Recovery Haven said that “We provide psychological and social support, information and a drop-in service for those living with cancer and for their families and carers.” She continued to say “The primary aim of Recovery Haven is to make our services available on every door step throughout the county of Kerry.

There were two other category winners. In the Farm Innovation Category, the winner was Fresh Extend owned by Brian Hampton based at 135 Red Lion Road, Kilmore, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, BT61 8PE. “I have designed a machine and system that can very effectively remove ethylene gas from cold rooms and the food chain of fruit and veg. The machine and system offers cost effective solutions to small to large scale producers and fruit and veg handlers”, said Brian Hampton.

The Rural Business Category was won by SAMCO, owned by Samuel Shine from Adare in County Limerick. Sam Shine said that “Samco’s business idea is to provide farmers with a low cost solution to on farm storage of high quality fermented feed without the need for drying. The Samco Bag Press is ideal for buffer feeding during the grazing season, storing forage maize, brewer’s grain, chopped sugar beet and other such products.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Dr Edmond Harty, CEO Dairymaster said: “These awards are all about the people, it’s the people who innovate. Innovation is like baking a cake – once you get the right ingredients, it’s what you do with those ingredients that make the difference. In rural communities and businesses, innovation is the difference between thriving and dying. As a company we’ve always focussed on innovation, but we have also experienced the benefit of having that work recognised. That’s why these awards had to be established and why Dairymaster is sponsoring them.

Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc, congratulated the winners saying: "The entrepreneurial spirit in Rural Ireland is alive and well. Innovators have to be creative, courageous, persistent and resilient, and this year's finalists certainly demonstrate these traits in abundance. The importance of innovation at farm and company level is important to maintaining vibrancy in rural Ireland. Innovation at farm level is evident from the recent analysis of Teagasc National Farm survey data which shows that the adoption of innovative practices on farms is found to be strongly positively correlated with economic performance. Teagasc continues to support Innovation through the Options programme. The Food Works programme, which we are involved in with Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland, is another good example of supporting innovation in the food sector.

Justin McCarthy, Editor, Irish Farmers Journal noted that the ability of farmers and rural businesses to add value and problem solve was clearly evident at the Dairymaster Innovation awards on Tuesday night. One of the highlights was the level of innovation taking place around community initiatives with Recovery Haven being a worthy overall winner of the competition.

Martin McKendry, head of development services at CAFRE (DARD) said; “The awards were an excellent showcase of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Ireland and DARD are delighted to be involved with such prestigious awards programme.