Joined up Food
Start date: Dec 31, 2006,
End date: Dec 30, 2009
This project entailed the production of a report and action plan with the purpose of examining food sector issues of a cross border nature focusing on the North West as aresearch area. It has been compiled by the Irish Central Border Area Network Ltd. under the guidance of an intersectoral and cross-border food Working Group thatengaged many of the main agencies and players in the food sector north and south of the border.The need for such a piece of work emerged from the implementation of the INTERREG IIIA Programme. Subsequent to the completion of INTERREG IIIA, there was an indication from participants of a requirement for clarification of the needs and issues facing the food sector in the border region, which could then be used to inform future grant aid decision making. It was also led by the importance of the sector to the economy in both regions and the apparent challenges faced by a small but growing artisan and Organic sector in the wider North West cross-border region.A successful food sector is a vital component of the economy on the island of Ireland and is the largest cross-border trading sector. However, specific challenges affect growth forecasts, and the scope and breadth of the sector is such that a range of supports are required to meet the challenges of market pressures, the cost environment and international competitiveness. The report concluded that the main cross-border issues facing the sector are policy and its implementation, networking, supply chain and distribution challenges, human resources and training, need for greater levels of product development and innovation, energy and waste management and food tourism.The report explored the very wide range of supports available through the various agencies, with particular reference to cross-border working. While it was difficult to cover the entire development and support needs of the sector and match the organisations and programmes to needs, specific gaps in support were identified. These gaps included the need for more targeted networking support, widening of models to encourage and develop innovation, an all island approach to food technology capacity and support arrangements in respect of food technology centres; the need for greater food tourism development; sharing of knowledge in respect of meeting the skills gaps; andaddressing current barriers to trade created by the border.Taking the report findings an action centred set of recommendations and action plan proposal was provided for consideration.
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