The Gallaher Trust has announced that it is partnering with the Ulster Farmers’ Union to support Ballymena’s rural economy through the launch of a scholarship programme for disadvantaged young adults wishing to study at CAFRE (College of Agriculture and Rural Enterprise).
The Northern Ireland agri-food industry is a major contributor to the rural economy. In order to sustain and develop local farming and food production, encouraging young people into the industry is critical. Working as a primary producer on a farm is extremely rewarding but does not come without its challenges, major concerns going forward include climate change and feeding a growing population. Through study, CAFRE can provide the next generation of agri enthusiasts with vital skills and knowledge that will support them in their farming career while removing the worry of educational costs through the scholarship programme.
Ian Paisley, MP, Chairman of The Gallaher Trust said: “Farming in the Ballymena area plays a vital role in the local economy and with the agriculture industry facing many challenges, it’s important that we equip young farmers with the resilience and skills that will support them in managing a sustainable farm business. As a result, we are supporting this scholarship programme in partnership with the Ulster Farmers’ Union to the value of £65k, for young people who are keen to develop their farming knowledge by studying at CAFRE.”
There are 1004 farms within Ballymena’s catchment area, all reliant on a new generation coming through to support farming locally. The Ulster Farmers’ Union was founded in 1918 to promote and support the interests of the rural economy to secure a vibrant and sustainable future for generations to come. It represents the views of over 11,500 farm families and provides considerable support and resources for their membership.
Derek Lough, Membership Director of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, is looking forward to working with The Gallaher Trust, commenting: “The Gallaher Trust’s Scholarship is a great initiative. It will encourage young people, local to the Ballymena area, who might otherwise have been put off by the costs, to continue their training at CAFRE. Young farmers are the future of the agriculture industry and this scholarship helps us to support them as we work together to find solutions to the various challenges facing the sector.”
The scholarship will enable two students to access a two-year agriculture-related course through CAFRE to Foundation Degree level, beginning September 2023, and covers course fees as well as a generous £1500 technology pack. The scholarship will be offered to individuals (18+ years) from the Ballymena area wishing to further their farming skills and qualifications but who may not be able to pursue their studies for financial reasons.
The Gallaher Trust promotes job creation, skills development and supports disadvantaged adults and young people, working with its delivery partners on a range of projects to improve the wider Ballymena community.
The scholarship will continue for a further two years after the initial intake benefiting a total of six students.