A selection of inspirational young people from every county in Northern Ireland will be showcasing their agriculture and agri-food projects at the ABP Angus Youth Challenge Semi-Final event at CAFRE’s Loughrey Campus, Cookstown on Friday 9th March. 11 teams of 42 enthusiastic young people ranging from 14 to 16 years of age, will be impressing an independent panel of industry experts with their innovative approaches and creative thinking on project themes ranging from women in agriculture, promoting Northern Irish beef and the contribution of the agri-food sector to the rural economy.

To reach the semi-final the teams have already had to produce a video and attend a panel interview. They will now be turning their concepts into reality by bringing to life their aspirations for and interests in the agri-food sector. 

Speaking about why the global meat processor, ABP, is investing in this competition in Northern Ireland, its Managing Director here, George Mullan, said “We’re looking into the future of our industry through this competition. We want to inspire a future work force from beef farmers to food scientists and agri-technologists that will bring innovation and technical know-how to the table. We look forward to some ‘out of the box, innovative thinking’ from our young semi-finalists on the themes they have been given as well as the ability to embrace the benefits that technology is bringing to the sector. The ABP Youth Challenge reaches out to schools and clubs right across the province to show how diverse a career in the sector can be and the future skills that are required.”

The semi-finalists come from rural and urban backgrounds. There’s a good mix of boys and girls and not all live on a farm. “Common to them all is an interest in our sector and an enthusiasm to make an impact,” added Mr Mullan.

Judging the projects will be senior figures drawn from the agriculture and food production sectors ranging from CAFRE, NIMEA, NIFDA, AFBI, YFCU and the LMC. They will have the tough task of selecting three finalist teams. The finalist teams will then be presented with five Aberdeen Angus x calves at a high-profile event at the 100th Balmoral Show in May. They will go on to rear the calves through to sale to ABP over an 18-month skills development programme with ABP covering insights into beef production from farm to fork. In addition, they will benefit financially from the profit at sale of the calves to ABP. One overall winning team will also win £1,000 cash prize for their school or club. The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is organised in partnership with the Northern Irish Angus Producers Group.