A £1million capital grant scheme to help existing micro food and drink manufacturing businesses to upscale production to secure new markets for their products will open in March, Rural Affairs Minster Gordon Lyons MLA has announced.
The aim of the scheme is to enable eligible businesses that are processing primary agricultural or horticultural produce to commence supplying to the retail or distribution industry; or to increase the quantity of products they are selling to the retail or distribution industry; or to move into sales outside of Northern Ireland. Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 will be available.
Announcing the opening of the scheme, Minister Lyons said: “This scheme will help existing micro food and drink manufacturing businesses to have confidence to invest and expand, and to stimulate economic growth and development for our local economy. When the scheme opens for expressions of interest on 8 March it will provide an opportunity for existing micro food and drink manufacturing businesses that are processing primary agricultural or horticultural produce, to apply for a grant of between £5,000 and £50,000.
“I would encourage potential applicants to access the guidance notes online to see if they are eligible for the scheme and if necessary contact my Department with any eligibility queries before the scheme opens on 8 March. It is essential that the projects funded under this scheme provide direct benefits to the supply chain by improving commercial links between Northern Ireland food processors and the farmers and growers who produce the raw materials, particularly the local farmers and growers.”
The Micro Food Business Investment Scheme Information booklet which details the priorities for the funding and the business and project eligibility criteria is on the DAERA website at: www.daera-ni.gov.uk/topics/grants-and-funding-rural-development/rural-development-grants.
Micro food and drink manufacturers that are ready to upscale to access new markets are asked consider the scheme eligibility criteria carefully before starting to complete the expression of interest form which will available through the above link from 8 March 2021 for a six week period.
The Micro Food Business Investment Scheme is one of a series of pilots being developed by the Department and the outcomes and lessons from these Schemes will contribute to the development of a future programme under the Rural Policy Framework.