EIP-AGRI has proven itself to be a major policy and networking initiative helping to speed up research uptake and innovation on the ground, according to European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Phil Hogan.

The commissioner was speaking at the pre-launch of the new degree programme in International Agricultural Engineering at the Institute of Technology (IT) Tralee this morning, Friday, March 5.

The commissioner also pointed out that the new degree programme is “a very exciting development” because it is an excellent time to be entering the field of agricultural engineering.

The possibilities are endless for graduates, both here in Ireland and abroad.

He continued: “Global events of recent years have brought agricultural science, research and innovation back to the prominent position they deserve.

“This degree brings research and practice closer together, in particular through the multi-actor projects and thematic networks.”

EIP-AGRI and Horizon 2020

Hogan went on to say that the EIP-AGRI and multi-actor projects under Horizon 2020 enable farmers to work in cooperation with researchers and other stakeholders, allowing them to put ideas into practice in a very concrete way.

This makes solutions more responsive to actual challenges and farmers’ needs and accelerates the uptake of innovative projects in the agricultural sector.

He continued: “It also helps to provide ideas and orientation for further agricultural research based on real needs and challenges for the stakeholders concerned. This applies not only to farming but also to rural communities.”

The EU commissioner went on to tell those gathered that more than 1,000 EIP-AGRI operational groups have started out under rural development programmes.

These groups, he added, hold “fantastic potential” for creating innovative solutions that will make farming smarter, more efficient and more sustainable.

Indeed, we expect around 3,200 operational groups by the end of 2020.

Hogan continued: “The results of these projects provide lots of new ideas and inspiration for the farming community and rural areas.

“And through the EIP-AGRI networking activities these ideas can cross borders and speed up innovation everywhere in Europe.

“But we need to do even more. It is imperative that the latest research and innovation is transferred to our farmers and our agri-businesses. They are our boots on the ground.”