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INSIGHTS to sustainable agriculture in Northern Ireland (NI) have been shared with scores of teachers across the province thanks to an insightful educational conference.
In recent days LMC industry development manager Colin Smith delivered a presentation at the British Nutrition Foundation’s conference for Food and Nutrition teachers in NI. The conference provided insight into the food and nutrition issues that impact the lives and education of children and young people in NI, with presentations from experts in the fields of education, food and farming and nutrition.
Beginning his presentation titled, understanding sustainability – a NI red meat industry perspective, Colin outlined the legislative targets and industry led sustainability initiatives that agri food supply chain members are engaged in. He also provided an informative breakdown of the economic importance of the sector to the local economy.
“Agriculture is a critically important industry to Northern Ireland. It contributes almost £5bn to the NI economy and provides employment for around 113,000 people. In NI we can produce enough food to feed 10 million people in the UK and further afield and that is important because population will continue to rise. In 2021 there was 820 million people suffering from hunger and that is not sustainable. Agriculture production needs to increase to meet the demand for food while ultimately the area for food production is decreasing.
“Agriculture while it is an emitter of greenhouse gasses is unique in its opportunity to be part of the solution to climate change. Agriculture through sequestration of carbon can act as a carbon sink so as we grow food, crops and grass for animals to eat, through photosynthesis carbon is being sequestered, or absorbed into our land and soils and is being stored there. If we manage our agriculture production with carbon in mind we can be part of the solution in offsetting those emissions.”
Throughout the course of his presentation Colin went on to touch on aspects of the CCEA food and nutrition syllabus that closely link to agriculture in the context of sustainability. This included the role of the Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assurance Scheme in providing an independent guarantee of quality and traceability from farm to fork, but it was also explained that the scheme is instrumental in helping to enhance sustainable farming practices.
Feedback from the conference has been encouraging with one attendee noting, “Every speaker had something useful to say and it will be brought back into the classroom at relevant times. I will also share the information with colleagues to help us move forward.”
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