The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Research and Development, Martin Heydon TD, has highlighted the role of research and innovation in the agri-food and bioeconomy sector over the course of 2021.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine supports research and innovation to enable the Irish agri-food sector to deliver greater efficiency, sustainability and the development of a strong bio-economy.
Commenting on this, Minister Heydon said, “this year saw the publication of the new ten-year Strategy for the agri-food sector – Food Vision 2030.One of its four Missions is to develop an innovative, competitive and resilient agri-food sector, driven by technology and talent. Our vision is for Ireland to become a global leader of innovation for sustainable food and agriculture systems. We have witnessed the critical role that science and innovation have played in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and I am of the view that they will play a similarly critical role in Ireland becoming a global leader in sustainable food systems”.
A key element of research and innovation is uptake of the outputs by end-users, including farmers, foresters, fishers and other stakeholders in the sector. Referring to this, the Minister observed, “our research community has developed and tested a range of technologies and practices that are going to prove significant in mitigating the impact of agriculture on climate and the environment, including multi-species swards, low-input chemical nitrogen systems, protected urea, animal breeding and genetics, and many more. Over the course of 2021, I have seen the implementation of these scientific innovations on farms throughout the country. Given the fact that Ireland ranks second in the world for agricultural science research quality, I am confident that further scientific breakthroughs can be made that can build on this”.
Continuing on this theme, Minister Heydon remarked, “I was delighted to be in a position this year to launch a research call, the results of which I recently announced. This sees an investment of over €20million into a range of areas; including climate and the environment, sustainable animal and plant production, food safety and food innovation. In addition, I announced co-funding of over €1.9million for projects under the European Research Area Networks as well as other awards under the EU Joint Programming Initiative and the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership. Combined, this is a strong endorsement by this Government of the importance of research and innovation and is also a key deliverable of the Programme for Government.”
Concluding, the Minister remarked, “my Department embarked on a new approach for structuring its research funding in 2021, using a five-strand approach. This includes a thematic research strand, an international outreach strand, a strategic studies strand, an industry strand (research+ and innovation platform), and coordination activities. This has been an important first step in ensuring our research and innovation framework is fit for purpose. However, I also intend to bring forward further changes as we work to implement the actions relevant to research and innovation in the Food Vision 2030 Strategy. My Department is working on a range of new and exciting initiatives, many of which will see enhanced collaboration between a wide range of stakeholders here at home but also with key international partners, and I look forward to bringing these to fruition over the course of 2022.”