Kevin Doolin, Director of Innovation at TSSG and project co-ordinator of the €17m Horizon 2020 funded project, DEMETER, was invited to participate as a Moderator and Rapporteur of the ‘Agri-Food in the Next Decade – The Role of Technology’ at the recent Agri Food Strategy 2030 consultation event at the Aviva Stadium on 16th October. The invitation by the Secretary General of the Dept. of Agriculture, Food & Marine, came in response to TSSG’s growing reputation as the experts in applying ICT in the vital agricultural industry.
The Agri Food Strategy 2030, a successor to Food Wise 2025, is being developed by a committee of industry leaders and this consultation event on 16th October welcomed delegates from right across the Irish agriculture, fishing, forestry and food sector to participate in the deliberations.
The event had six break-out sessions over the course of the day: ‘The Bioeconomy’, ‘Future Food Insights and Creating More Value-Added’, ‘Consumer Trust in the Food Chain’, ‘Environmentally Sustainable Farming and Fishing’, ‘Farm Household Viability’ and Agri-Food in the Next Decade – the Role of Technology’.
Enterprise Ireland, Finistre, Teagasc and IFA participated on the panel moderated by Kevin Doolin who led the discussion focusing on a number of points imperative to the development of ICT in the Agri-Food sector. The key outcomes of the session included the importance of training and continuous professional development for farmers and the criticality of access to not only education but also opportunities to overcome potential fears around adopting technology on farms. This led to the topic of the importance of rural infrastructure, particularly broadband playing a critical role in developing technology in the agriculture sector.
Pictured is Michael Creed, TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
It was noted at the event that the start-up culture in the agri-tech sector, albeit slow, is gaining momentum however more mechanisms need to be made available for farmers to develop and nurture an entrepreneurial eco-system within the sector. This is changing with the support of research centres, such as TSSG, who are leaders in multiple large scale agri-tech projects across Europe. Including DEMETER, a pan-European project with 60 partners including the World Farmers Organisation, TSSG is also the Irish/UK Lead for a €20 million Pan-European Agri-Food project, which hopes to connect the dots to unleash the innovation potential for digital transformation of the European Agri-Food sector. This project will see a further €6 million secured in research funding over the next 4 years, as well as an economic impact across Europe of over €30 million. Both projects have cascade funding opportunities, scheduled to open in 2020, on offer directly to farmers who are investing in agri-tech and interested in developing their idea further.
Launched earlier this year was the SFI Research Centre called VistaMilk, a €40m National Research Centre for Agri-Tech funded by both SFI and The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. This project sees TSSG partner with TEAGASC (national agricultural research and advisory service), Tyndall (Research in sensor manufacturing) and Insight (data analytics research centre).
The goal of the SFI Research Centre, VistaMilk is to investigate and build technologies to advance precision agriculture in the dairy sector. In particular, they focus on improving the condition and efficiencies in the areas of pasture management, animal health and wellbeing, and food production.
These are just three of many agri-tech projects research in TSSG are actively involved in. For more information on these and more projects visit www.tssg.org/projects.
For more information on the agri food strategy go to https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/foodindustrydevelopmenttrademarkets/agri-foodandtheeconomy/agri-foodstrategyto2030/FoodStrategyConferenceProgramme301019.pdf