The Department of Agriculture is offering supports to young female entrepreneurs this year under the CEDRA Rural Innovation and Development Fund.

Applications for tender are being called for two initiatives; female rural entrepreneurs and social farming.

These will be the first supports launched from the 2016 fund, which has a total value of €1.5m and the Department has said that further supports for other initiatives are due to roll out later in the year.

Funding is to be provided under the first initiative to develop aspiring female entrepreneurs in rural areas.

The Minister of State for Rural Economic Development, Ann Phelan, said that there are many rural women with good business ideas.

“Support in the early stages of setting up a business is particularly valuable.”

Meanwhile, the second initiative will provide funding to advance social farming in rural areas.

This is the practice of offering voluntary but structured work experience on farms, the Department has said, to people who avail of a range of day support services.

This initiative will target projects with a national impact, and must be of a sufficient scale to have strategic, long term benefit.

The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, said that Minister Phelan and he agree on the need to support and encourage social farming, which provides many benefits to both service users and the farmers providing the service, but also to our wider society.

A prior information notice will be published on the eTenders website and the Official Journal of the European Union shortly.

It is expected that a competitive public procurement process to determine the allocation of funding will commence before the summer.