NI agricultural college CAFRE sees £75m investment

CAFRE provides the NI's agri-food industry with tuition and training facilities (Photo: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye)
CAFRE provides the NI's agri-food industry with tuition and training facilities (Photo: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye)

Northern Ireland's land-based college CAFRE will see a new £75 million investment to 'underpin future sustainable growth' in the region's agri-food industry.

The government's investment plan will commence refurbishment of the college's Greenmount Campus and Loughry College.

The buildings at the heart of both campuses - where agri students live, study and socialise - were built over 50 years ago.

As part of the investment, they will have new modern student accommodation built, along with high-tech facilities to support student learning.

NI's farming minister Edwin Poots said: "Our agri-food sector has faced many challenges over the past century and has grown to develop a global reputation for high quality food and traceability.

"It is now time to invest in each campus to provide modern, well-designed facilities which will meet the needs of students, staff and industry during the next century."

The plans for Loughry will also include a Science Centre which will be shared with food research staff in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

These class facilities will be the centre of knowledge and innovation for the industry leaders and decision-makers of the future.

“CAFRE is well placed to deliver education, knowledge transfer and innovation programmes which will assist in the delivery of my Green Growth initiative," Mr Poots added.

"I also welcome the fact that the design and construction of the new buildings will be environmentally sustainable, enhancing the well-being of all who use, live and work in them."

Martin McKendry, CAFRE director, said modern, well-designed facilities at Greenmount and Loughry Campuses were 'strategically important' for student recruitment.

"The building work will have a phased approach to minimise disruption to the delivery of our programmes and we have a target completion date of 2028.

"I look forward to seeing the impact of this work as each stage of the project is completed,” he said.

The initial contracts for professional services will be issued in June 2021 and building work will commence in 2023 with a projected completion date of 2028.

The investment follows the launch of the BSc (Hons) Degrees in Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture and the Higher Level Apprenticeships in Food.