A £75m investment in facilities and accommodation at CAFRE’s Loughry and Greenmount campuses is aimed at securing a sustainable future for Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector, said Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots today.
The investment, which will see both campuses undergo a significant refurbishment programme, has been welcomed by the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA).
“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,” said Michael Bell, executive director, NIFDA.
“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.”
Announcing the programme, Minister Poots said: “CAFRE has a well renowned reputation within the agri-food industry for providing excellent tuition and training facilities for the next generation of farmers, growers and agri-food personnel.
“The buildings at the heart of Loughry and Greenmount campuses, where students live, study and socialise, were built over 50 years ago. It is therefore fitting that my Department is making this investment in the Centenary year of Northern Ireland.
“Our agri-food sector has faced many challenges over the past century and has grown to develop a global reputation for high quality food and traceability. It is now time to invest in each campus to provide modern, well-designed facilities which will meet the needs of students, staff and industry during the next century.
“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. 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."
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.”