Posted 27 February 2023
“During the evening, we had had a far-ranging discussion on what makes Northern Ireland distinctive in the food and farming sectors – and the opportunities there were for competitive advantage. To truly seize these opportunities, we all need to think far and wide about the team that comes together to make our food, farming and environmental sectors work."
Policy makers, industry leaders and more met senior Harper Adams staff at a Global Policy Forum dinner in Northern Ireland.
The evening, held at the Europa Hotel in Belfast, was addressed by Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan and formed the second in a series of events for the University’s Global Policy Forum.
It gave its attendees the chance for a frank discussion about the opportunities and challenges for Northern Ireland – and how universities such as Harper Adams could contribute and assist.
Professor Sloan said: “During the evening, we had had a far-ranging discussion on what makes Northern Ireland distinctive in the food and farming sectors – and the opportunities there were for competitive advantage.
“To truly seize these opportunities, we all need to think far and wide about the team that comes together to make our food, farming and environmental sectors work.
“It was encouraging to hear about the connections that industry and government partners had with universities and colleges both in Northern Ireland and across Great Britain and Ireland.
“Addressing the challenges and opportunities in the agri-food sector needs to be a collective effort, and our discussions centred around how this collective effort can best achieve results – and how we can ensure that we share these successes with the world.”
With a wide range of attendees, from the civil service to the hospitality sector, and from veterinary experts to agricultural chiefs, taking part in the discussions, Professor Sloan said an overarching theme was the importance of education – and the need to recognise that each sector has a role to play in persuading new talent of its value.
He added: “We need to target young people together across industry and education and provide good reasons why they should be considering a career in these sectors – and this includes working to persuade the Office for National Statistics to update their categorisation of roles in the industries we serve, to ensure that the highly skilled jobs which they can offer young people are not under recognised.”
The dinner was the culmination of a three-day tour of Northern Ireland undertaken by Professor Sloan and Harper Adams University Secretary Dr Catherine Baxter.
During the visit, Professor Sloan visited companies including Linden Foods ABP, Mash Direct and Lely Eglish, at each of which he met Harper Adams alumni; met CAFRE staff and visited the CAFRE Greenmount campus; and spoke with representatives of the Agri-Tech branch of the Department of the Economy and Invest NI.
Professor Sloan added: “The visit was hugely worthwhile and allowed me to forge new relationships and reaffirm old friendships in my role as Vice-Chancellor.
“It was fitting, therefore, for Belfast to host our second Global Policy event, and to discuss with from some of the key voices in Northern Ireland how we can work together most effectively.”