An all-island agri-food research programme has opened for applications from public research institutions in Northern Ireland.

The programme will support joint projects with the Republic of Ireland that will benefit the local agri-food sector.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has identified a number of topics in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) 2021 Competitive Call for Research Proposals that are of shared strategic relevance to the Northern Ireland agri-food sector, with DAERA agreeing to fund the participation of Northern Ireland based researchers in successful project applications.

Building on the success of previous years, this year sees the widest range of topics within the broad areas of shared strategic relevance:

  • Climate, environment, biodiversity, and ecosystem services;
  • Smart sustainable animal and plant production, health and welfare;
  • Rural economy and sustainable development, data and agri-digitalisation, and circular bio-economy;
  • Safe, healthy food for human nutrition;
  • Smart food processing and manufacturing.

£4 million invested so far

Welcoming the opening of the fourth collaboration on this programme, Minister Poots said: “Since 2015, this joint programme has seen nearly £4 million invested in collaborative research in agri-food across the island.

“DAFM and DAERA share many of the same policy challenges so there is a shared benefit in a collaborative approach which enables the leveraging of additional research capacity and expertise to meet the needs of the local agri-food sector.

My department recognises that science has a vital role in providing our farmers and agri-food industry with a competitive edge in highly demanding markets.

“Funding through this programme to local scientists, technologists and advisers will play an essential part in assisting Northern Ireland farmers who face the challenges of increasingly competitive agri-food and forestry sectors.

“Sharing both knowledge and resources through collaboration enhances both the quality of research and the value derived from DAERA funding.”

All responses to this Call for Submission of Proposals must be received by 1:00pm on Sunday, February 28, 2021.