£30,500 available for farmers and foodies

Mandina Fulton, left, Countryside Services discusses the Agri-Food Co-Operation Scheme with Fergus Wallace from Taste Causeway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Mandina Fulton, left, Countryside Services discusses the Agri-Food Co-Operation Scheme with Fergus Wallace from Taste Causeway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Individuals and small businesses involved in the agri-food sector who feel that they would benefit from £30,500 financial support to market a new idea, product, process or technology can avail of support from the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme.

Early participants in the scheme have included a diverse range of occupations and projects.

They include radio personalities, chefs and farmers, while their projects range from food tourism, food marketing, artisans, quality systems and providing an eating experience for visitors and locals.

Two groups who have already applied for this support are The Foodie Out There Group and The North Coast Tourism Initiative.

Richard Kane, an arable farmer from Limavady is the lead applicant for The North Coast Tourism Initiative. Included in the group are a chef and food writer, a broadcaster and journalist, and an artisan rapeseed oil producer, who collectively are seeking support under the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme to progress their new idea.

Group member Leona Kane explains that as a group they came up with the novel idea to use Quilly House, near Limavady to host corporate groups and provide them with a splendid culinary experience. This will be a private dining experience with a menu that has been created uniquely around each set of guests to meet their preferences using the very best of local produce.

The group has applied for support under the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme which will allow them to develop a marketing strategy both for the group and the new venture, as well as promotional material, website and logo design.

Leona continues: “The North Coast is welcoming a lot more tourists especially with it being part of the Taste Causeway strategy. This, coupled with recent research indicating that people now want to have hands-on experiences and memories that they can talk about for years, has prompted us to tap into the Food Tourism market in our area and increase the numbers of visitors by welcoming food tours and corporate events.”

The Foodie Out There Group, which is made up of egg producers, pig farmers and a food tour operator has a new project in development. Lead applicant member, Niall Delargy explains the reasons behind joining up with others in his supply chain.

He said: “The group understands that they need to develop and install quality systems at all levels and that they need to implement a sophisticated marketing strategy with an emphasis on quality, animal welfare and locality. The group also appreciates the potential of food tourism and food trails to further enhance our products/brand as well as the local region. With the help and support of AFCS our group hopes to increase our market share in the egg sector as well as encouraging food tourism to the beautiful Glens of Antrim.”

Mandina Fulton from Countryside Services Ltd who is operating the scheme on behalf of the NI Rural Development Program and DAERA said: “The scheme offers a great opportunity for farmers and foodies to join together under a group umbrella to promote their new ideas and help eliminate fragmentation in the supply chains.

“We have seen interest in the scheme from a very diverse range of producers –from artisan food businesses wishing to collectively market their goods, to groups of farmers getting together to further a novel idea which will aid their supply of product to the market. They can pick and choose what support measures they wish to avail of up to a maximum of £30,500, and the expertise of a facilitator offered under the scheme is an additional benefit to the group to help further their ideas.”

Support measures available to the groups include specialist mentoring in marketing, business development, and quality systems. Business tools including management information systems, website development and logo design, training, study tours and co-operation support.

The scheme is open for Expression of Interest Forms.

For further details phone 02882 788207 or email agrifood@countrysideservices.com.

Details are also on the website www.countrysideservices.com.