NI’s Food & Drink sector will be helped by £75m CAFRE investment

NI’s Food & Drink sector will be helped by £75m CAFRE investment
NI Food & Drink Association's Michael Bell welcomes news of £75m investment in CAFRE

CAFRE’s £75m investment will ensure NI remains ahead of the curve – says the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association.

Northern Ireland food and drink leaders have welcomed the announcement by Agriculture minister Edwin Poots MLA of a £75 million investment at CAFRE.

Michael Bell, Executive Director, Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) said “Northern Ireland food and drink is world leading in terms of innovation, quality, commercial success and sustainability, and our people have been key to earning and keeping that reputation. Many of our best people in roles across the food supply chain are CAFRE graduates, and this new investment from the Executive will see the campuses at Greenmount and Loughry continue to grow from strength to strength, further cementing Northern Ireland’s leading position in developing new talent within agri-food.

“A strong food and drink sector will be crucial to securing Northern Ireland’s economic recovery from the pandemic, and further investment into research and development in particular will future proof the industry in Northern Ireland, driving growth and ensuring we remain ahead of the curve.”

Both campuses at Loughry and Greenmount will undergo a significant refurbishment programme which will include new modern student accommodation and high-tech facilities to support student learning.

Announcing the refurbishment programme, Minister Poots said “This investment complements the recent launch of the BSc (Hons) Degrees in Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture and the Higher Level Apprenticeships in Food and will ensure that CAFRE remains at the forefront of agri-food education across these islands.The plans for Loughry will also include a Science Centre which will be shared with food research staff in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI). These top class facilities will be the centre of knowledge and innovation for the industry leaders and decision-makers of the future.

“CAFRE is well placed to deliver education, knowledge transfer and innovation programmes which will assist in the delivery of my Green Growth initiative. I also welcome the fact that the design and construction of the new buildings will be environmentally sustainable, enhancing the well-being of all who use, live and work in them.”

Welcoming the funding for the campus investments, Martin McKendry, College Director said, “Modern, well-designed facilities at Greenmount and Loughry Campuses are strategically important for recruitment onto our wide portfolio of courses. Planning for these projects has already commenced and construction will begin in late 2022/early 2023. The building work will have a phased approach to minimise disruption to the delivery of our programmes and we have a target completion date of 2028. I look forward to seeing the impact of this work as each stage of the project is completed.”