Queen’s University to develop £30 million agri-food research centre

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Queen’s University, Belfast (QUB) is to develop a £30 million state-of-the-art research centre to further advance the work of its Institute for Global Food Security.

The new facility will add significantly to the prestige and international recognition of the ongoing research carried out by Professor Chris Elliott and his fast expanding team of scientists.

The news was broken at the Institute’s annual lecturer, held earlier this week. Commenting, Professor Elliott said that the commitment to the new research facility had been taken in the context of QUB’s vision for 2020.

He explained: “The good news is that the work undertaken by staff at the Institute had been ranked ‘number one’ in the UK, when compared with the broad spectrum of farm, food and veterinary research carried out at other centres.

“And, obviously, we want to build on this for the future. Our objectives are to make a real difference when it comes to addressing the challenge of feeding the extra two billion people that will make up the world’s population in just thirty years’ time.

“There is also the challenge of enhancing and communicating the role which diet can play in delivering lifelong health benefits.”

While acknowledging that the institute will seek to work on projects with a truly international perspective, Prof Elliott also stressed the proactive role which his team will play in working with the local agri food sectors.

He continued: “The fundamental challenge facing agriculture in Northern Ireland is that of developing a sustainable future against the backdrop of markets that are becoming truly international.

“As a consequence, we must produce food of greater quality. In addition, the farming and food industries must become more consumer-focussed.”

Courtesy of his presentation to the event, Agri Food Strategy Board member Owen Brennan highlighted the work which the Institute for Global Food Security had carried out in developing the Food Fortress strategy for Northern Ireland.

“As a consequence, we have developed a best in class animal feed traceability and assurance scheme, which will benefit agriculture as whole,” he said.

“Independent testing and analysis is the core driver of this service. Over 99% of the feed tonnage produced in Northern Ireland is now covered by the Food Fortress initiative. In turn, this will give local agriculture a competitive advantage moving forward.”

The Devenish Nutrition managing director also pointed to the new thinking that his own company has brought to bear in driving innovation within the agri food sectors.

“It is now evident that the targeted use of bio fortified feed can improve both animal and human health. In turn, this is opening up new opportunities for the farming and food sectors,” he said.