Future of Fermoy-Mitchelstown lies in creation of a ‘food valley’
The future for Fermoy and Mitchelstown is food. That’s the belief of Minister of State Sean Sherlock who this week mooted the idea of a ‘food valley’ being developed in north Cork and spoke of the significant potential for job creation it holds. It would see clustering of resources and research between state agencies such as Teagasc Moorepark, the IDA and Cork-based educational institutes UCC and CIT.
Endorsing the idea is Professor Paul Ross, Head of Biotechnoogy at Teagasc, Moorepark, Fermoy who says it is ‘totally realistic in aspiration’.
With the removal of milk quotas by the EC in 2015, the Minister believes Ireland will be in a position to significantly increase productivity as there will be an intensive drive to increase production by 50% for harvest 2020.
He says he has been working with Professor Ross and his staff at Moorepark recently, laying the foundations for the development of a ‘food valley’ on the back of recent events and investment announcements.
“The key to ensuring that we reap the maximum yield from this increased milk productivity will be through expansion of our dairy product range, particularly in the functional foods market. This can only be accomplished through research and development and it is my firm assertion that Teagasc Moorepark is already leading the way in this sector,” the Minister said.
Professor Ross agrees. “We are sitting on a cusp that could be a huge expansion in dairy and we need to build an economic infrastructure around that, that’s knowledge-based. We could now see start-ups that are food based and international companies located here to coincide with the removal of quotas,” he explained.
The Minister of State and Professor Ross’s remarks come just two weeks after Fine Gael Deputy Tom Barry hinted broadly about a new chocolate factory being planned for the area.
A key element to the development of the food valley was the recent signing of a memorandum of agreement between Teagasc and Science Foundation Ireland to jointly fund research grants for the agriculture and food disciplines.
The Minister says he’s already begun discussions on developing such a food valley in north Cork.
“I have great optimism that this can be achieved and will lead to a significant number of high end industrial jobs for this region,” he said.
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