The 2024/25 Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme (NIRFP) has today (Friday, March 29) opened for applications.

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) minister Andrew Muir announced the opening of the programme, which uses £170,00 in funding to help raise the profile of regional food.

Applications are now open for projects taking place from May 1, 2024, to March 31, 2025, and they must be submitted by 4:00p.m on Monday, April 15, 2024.

Applications are invited from not-for-profit groups and regional development agencies as well as registered charities.

Minister Muir said: “This is an important funding programme for our food and drink sector.

“The programme encourages collaboration between all sectors and representative bodies within the local food industry through financial support to help showcase quality regional food.

“Last year, the programme provided funding to a range of projects including the Food Pavilion at Balmoral Show where over 100 food and drink producers from across Northern Ireland were able to showcase and sell their produce.

“The NIRFP also supported the Food Tourism Connection Summit, Armagh Food & Cider Weekend and the food pavilions at the local agricultural shows.”

Muir said Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector has “so much to give”, and that he will continue to support the delivery of “high quality and high impact projects that will raise the profile of local quality produce”.

The NIRFP has supported local events and initiatives by providing financial support in three areas: regional fairs/exhibitions, seminars/workshops and information programmes.

In 2023/24, the NIRFP awarded funding to 17 projects, providing local producers with showcasing opportunities at agri-food events across Northern Ireland.

The programme was originally established as part of the implementation of The Fit for Market Report, which was published by the Food Safety Group in November 2004.