The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Michael Creed TD, today welcomed awards of over €856,000 for Irish researchers collaborating in four transnational projects arising from the first competitive Call under the European Research Area Network (ERA-Net) SusCrop.
Announcing the awards the Minister Creed said:
"Guaranteeing the food and nutrient security for a growing population is one of our society’s most pressing challenges and in order to meet these demands we will require significant gains in terms of efficiency, productivity and environmental sustainability in our crop production systems. Today’s research funding announcement recognises the leading role that Irish researchers and research institutions are playing in this critical area and builds on the spirit of international cooperation, alignment and knowledge sharing which will be of profound benefit to the Irish agri-food sector."
An ERA-NET Cofund Action under Horizon 2020, SusCrop aims to strengthen the European Research Area in the field of Sustainable Crop Production through enhanced cooperation and coordination of different national and regional research programmes. It is supported in Ireland’s case through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Research Stimulus Fund and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme.
The principle objective of SusCrop is be to address modern crop production systems by taking into account the whole food value chain, crop diversity and resilience, resource use efficiency, nutrient recycling, ecosystem services, limiting negative environmental impacts, integrated pest management, reducing and re-using waste and achieving food and nutritional security.
In response to the SusCrop’s 2018 Call for Research Proposals four projects involving Irish collaborators were funded namely:
- Developing improved Vicia faba (Broad Bean) breeding practices and varieties to drive domestic protein production in the European Union - Dr Sheila Alves, Teagasc Crops Research
- Knowldege-driven genomic predictions for sustainable disease resistance in wheat - Dr Julio Isidro-Sánchez, University College Dublin, Animal and Crop Science
- Harnessing the potato-microbiome interactions for development of sustainable breeding and production strategies - Dr Achim Schmalenberger, University of Limerick, Biological Sciences
- A novel Fixation-Restitution Breeding method for potato - Dr Dan Milbourne, Teagasc, Crop Science
In wishing the applicants success the Minister stated:
"I am delighted that my department was in a position to help facilitate this Irish success through the provision of seed funding and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the applicants and their European and international collaborators on their success in what was, no doubt, a highly competitive funding call."
The Irish side funding involves DAFM and Teagasc which have committed €350,000 and €176,000 respectively - a combined contribution of €526,000. In addition to these national funding contributions, a further €325,000 has been leveraged from the European Commission to support Irish participation in these successful projects.
The awards arise from a Call for Proposals launched under the European Research Area Network - SusCrop (Sustainable Crop Production) and funded by one of the department’s three competitive, research funding programmes, namely the Research Stimulus Fund (RSF).
Research Stimulus Fund
(RSF) aims to facilitate research that fills gaps in the mainstream Teagasc programme, supports sustainable and competitive agricultural production practices and policies, and contributes to building and maintaining a knowledge economy and research capability in the agriculture sector.
allocates some funding from its three competitive research funding programmes to support national participation in strategically aligned transnational competitive research Calls. Such participation helps leverage expertise and data, and develops skills and networks. The majority of transnational research funding Calls that DAFM supports are undertaken in conjunction with other EU Member States and the EU Commission. Successful projects that arise following a rigorous peer review evaluation process, are made up of research partners from at least three member states with each partner funded by their national funding organisation. In most cases, including here, the EU Commission also co-funds successful projects.
The Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme
promotes the scientific and technical capacity of the Irish agri-food sector as well as closer collaboration between Teagasc and third level institutions across the island of Ireland, Europe, the US and the southern hemisphere. The programme covers all aspects of agriculture, horticulture, food, agri-food economics, rural development and rural environment, as well as specific topics identified for priority funding each year.