The future of sustainable food production being pioneered in Donegal

Lárionad Acmhainní Nádúrtha CTR, an Údarás na Gaeltachta client in the Donegal Gaeltacht, will form part of a €3.1m research project to diversify plant-protein production across the island of Ireland. The Protein-I project, which will be part-based in An Fál Carrach in Co. Donegal, aims to co-design pathways to support sustainable value chains that also benefit rural communities. Funding for this new initiative, will take a food-systems approach to enhancing the sustainability of protein production across the country, was announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. this week. Protein-I will bring together six research organisations – UCD, Teagasc, NUI Galway, UCC, Ulster University and Queen's University Belfast.



Through Protein-I Professor Fiona Doohan, Prof Lorraine Brennan and their colleagues at UCD will lead the project and collaborate with LAN CTR in the Gaeltacht area of An Fál Carrach using the results of the project to benefit farmers, local businesses and communities in the northwest region of Ireland.  The project will focus on plant production through to human health, while paying particular attention to the development of Ireland’s rural bio-economy.

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Fiona Doohan of University College Dublin explained:

“Protein-I will develop and evaluate crop-based value chains to ensure that rural communities in Ireland benefit in terms of on-farm diversification, employment and inclusivity. We will develop strategies to maximise sustainable plant protein production in a traceable and transparent way, and promote the uptake of such strategies in rural communities.”

Eithne Nic Lochlainn, Manager at Lárionad Acmhainní Nádúrtha also welcomed the announcement:

“Lárionad Acmhainní Nádúrtha is proud to be a part of this project which will support Ireland’s transition to zero-carbon agriculture.  Our primary purpose is to empower our Gaeltacht community to support and sustainably utilize the abundant natural resources of this region.  As part of the project we hope to assist with the development of strategies to maximise sustainable plant protein production and promote the uptake of such strategies in rural communities.” 

Speaking about the announcement Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Chief Executive Officer Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh said:

“Údarás na Gaeltachta is committed to supporting businesses that seek to innovate while also ensuring that climate change and sustainability are to the forefront of any project.  The Protein-I project, which Lárionad Acmhainní Nádúrtha CTR is a part of, is a great example of that endeavour to transform our current food system if we are to feed the rapidly expanding global population whilst maintaining the health of the planet.  This project based in the Gaeltacht will also support our Gaeltacht Ghlas (Green Gaeltacht) initiative to that Gaeltacht areas are sustainable and green as far as is possible.   We hope that this project will be an exemplary project for farmers in the Gaeltacht and rural areas.”

The five-year project will see the co-design of consumer-led approaches to diversify plant protein intake, model the impact among the population, and perform human interventions to demonstrate efficacy in terms of achieving adequate nutrition and improved health.

Protein-I is to receive €2.2m from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and €900,000 from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland.


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