Get a taste for the Agri-Food industry!

The Ulster Farmers’ Union and Food NI are calling all Key Stage 3 pupils to put their creative and technical skills to the test in the 2012 Agri-Food Challenge!

The Agri Food Challenge, which is supported by Musgrave and Lantra, and NI Regional Food Programme, is a province wide schools competition challenging students to either tackle the Home Economics challenge by designing a two course meal fit for Northern Ireland’s top athletes made from seasonal and home grown ingredients; or the Employability challenge by creating a radio advert aimed at encouraging young people to consider a career in the agri-food industry.

UFU President John Thompson said; “Through this exciting competition pupils have the opportunity to win fantastic prizes and to gain valuable career related skills. The agri-food industry is not just about milking cows, growing vegetables or rearing livestock. It is a varied and dynamic industry that encompasses a range of professions such as: farmer, processor, marketer, journalist, chef and restaurateur – just to name a few!

“Agri-food has something for everyone and this is the perfect time to explore the career prospects available in this rewarding industry. The agri-food industry has been the one industry in Northern Ireland that has traded strongly during the recession, with an annual turn over exceeding £3 billion and sustaining over 90,000 jobs. This is an industry that is growing and attracting investment.”

















Photo caption: Key Stage 3 pupils Francesca and Matthew from Methodist College Belfast get started on the Agri-Food Competition, supported by the NI Regional Food Programme. Pictured with Ruth Irvine from Ulster Farmers’ Union, Lindsay Lyttle from Food NI, Chef Martin Cardwell from The Academy Restaurant Belfast (part of the University of Ulster) who the winning pupil(s) will cook their with, and Richard Wright of BBC Northern Ireland who will interview the winning pupils and play the winning advert on air.

Lindsay Lyttle from Food NI said, “Getting involved in this competition will help to raise young peoples’ awareness of the vast amount of quality food and drink that is actually produced here in Northern Ireland. Students will come away with more knowledge about local produce and seasonality, and they also will achieve a greater understanding of the importance of supporting local producers to benefit the rural community and economy in Northern Ireland. Our young people are the shoppers of the future and this competition will not only open their minds, and encourage them to ‘buy local’, but it will also inspire them to consider a career in the very dynamic and increasingly rewarding agri-food industry. ”

Eamon Taggart, Senior Trading Manager at Musgrave Retail Partners NI, said “Everyone at Musgrave is delighted to support this innovative and worthwhile initiative that will engage young people in one of the biggest and fastest growing industries in Northern Ireland. We have strong relationships with our local suppliers and understand first hand the importance of the agri-food industry to the Northern Ireland economy. Musgrave firmly believes in using local suppliers and is proud to support something that encourages young people to learn more about the sector.”

David Seffen, Lantra’s Northern Ireland Partnership Manager said:  “Nothing could be more important to the Northern Ireland economy than protecting the future workforce and encouraging new people into the sector.  The agri-food industry requires highly skilled individuals, so this competition provides a great opportunity for young people to develop their critical thinking and leadership skills that will support them into employment and during their lifetime.”

This competition complements the Northern Ireland schools curriculum as it links directly with the ‘Learning for Life and Work’ subject areas – home economics and employability. It is a brilliant opportunity for cross curricular learning as students will be developing skills and knowledge in areas such as research, ICT, critical thinking, communication, health and innovation.

Pupils can submit an individual entry or a group entry and can enter one or both of the challenges. Winners of the Home Economics challenge will have the opportunity to actually cook their winning menu for their class with a professional chef from the award winning Academy Restaurant in Belfast! Winners of the Employability challenge will have the opportunity to meet Richard Wright, BBC Radio Ulster’s leading agriculture journalist, and to participate in his Farmgate programme, which is broadcast daily. Also, their radio advert may be selected for broadcast on the BBC.

Every winning school will also receive a cash prize of £250. Every runner up school will receive hampers of local produce and a cash prize of £100. The closing date for entries is Friday 6th April 2012. For further information click to find out more and to download posters, entry forms and more details.