THE finalists of a Province-wide agri-food skills competition for young people have been announced. The teams going through to the final stage of the ABP Angus Youth Challenge are Belfast Royal Academy, Enniskillen Royal Grammar, Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt and St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena.
They will now go on to receive five Angus cross calves per group at a prize-giving ceremony on May 18 at Balmoral Show. During the final stage they will take part in a programme with ABP that will see them developing skills and knowledge across the beef supply chain from farm to fork. This will culminate in the sale of each team’s Angus cattle to ABP with the net profit shared out amongst their group.
Congratulating the finalists at the training day in ABP Newry, Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland, George Mullan, said: “It was clear from the judging of the semi-finalists by an independent panel of industry experts, the standard was very high. So we decided to take four teams forward to the next stage. We are looking forward to working with these enthusiast young people who are already demonstrating a strong interest in the agri-food sector. I would like to wish them every success for the next stage.”
Each team has been assigned a special project to develop over the next 18 months. Their projects will challenge them to explore innovative and forward-looking techniques and proposals for the future benefit of meat production in Northern Ireland.
The finalists range from 14-16 years old. Not all live on a farm or come from a farming background. Belfast Royal Academy’s team is all urban dwellers and are interested in careers in the agri-food sector. They will be rearing their calves on the farm of the school’s Biology teacher. Their project theme is Farm Finance.
Enniskillen Royal Grammar’s team is being supported by the Home Economics teacher. Its project theme is how Angus cattle production can enhance the sustainability of farming in County Fermanagh.
The finalists representing Rainey Endowed School have been given the Benefits of Benchmarking and the Contribution of Women to Farm Management as their special project. The team are members of Rainey Endowed School’s Agricultural Club and all come from farming families.
St Louis Grammar’s finalists also have farming backgrounds. They will be working on the concept of Family Farms as a Driver of Sustainable Agriculture. The school’s Geography teacher is supporting them on the ABP Angus Youth Challenge.
The teams’ performance across all aspects of the final stage will be continually assessed to determine the overall winning group and the recipient of the £1,000 cash prize for their school.
The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is organised in partnership with the Northern Irish Angus Producers Group. Judging the semi-finalists were industry experts and representatives from leading organisations across the farming and agri-food sectors including CAFRE, the LMC, NIFDA, the UFU and YFCU.