£1.2 million boost for Cornish organic food production
Opportunities for organic businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been boosted by the announcement of a £1.2 million project which will be run by the Soil Association, thanks to funding from Objective One.
Organic South West (Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly) will provide support, information and advice to existing and new organic businesses, working specifically on developing new markets and supply chains to maintain a profitable sector.
The news is especially welcome in the light of the announcement earlier this week of the Government’s Organic Action Plan, which highlighted the need for active development of the UK share of the organic market and the promotion of new outlets for organic food including through local authorities, schools and hospitals.
Organic South West has been operating since May 2000 under a funding package from the European Objective 5(b) fund which finished in May this year. The latest package of Objective One funding will enable the Soil Association to build on its initial success and to offer a wider range of activities and services to additional groups including processors and retailers.
A new web site will provide a central point of information for all those interested in organic food and farming and will allow the development of on-line business to business trading. Other additional activities will include a wide range of regionally specific information, both for consumers and technical information for farmers and growers.
New research to understand what influences the consumer’s decision to buy organic food will be carried out and this will then be used in educating the public and raising awareness of the benefits of organic food and farming.
The project is seen as providing a major benefit to Cornwall’s green future; increasing the amount of land farmed organically and developing new sustainable local food markets and initiatives for environmentally friendly tourism.
Commenting on the opportunities that will be created for local farmers and businesses thanks to the funding package, Charlotte Russell, Regional Manager of Organic South West, said: “This is a really exciting time for organic food businesses in Cornwall with great opportunities to develop and strengthen local and regional markets for quality products.
“Because of its unique environment and climate, Cornwall is particularly suited to high quality, organic food production and we see this as a chance to establish the county’s reputation as the leader in sustainable food and farming.”
David Rodda of the Objective One Agricultural Development Team, said:“It’s great news that such an advisory service will be available to organic producers in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly so that they can enhance the links between production and processing. It is as vital to this sector as it is to the conventional farming sector that improved links are developed so that a truly sustainable agricultural industry can be developed.”
The £1.2m project has been approved for a £465,891 grant from the Objective One European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), with match funding coming from the Department of Food Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), with the additional £298,000 coming from the Soil Association and private sector business.
The project is in the process of appointing two new full time additional staff and the office will be fully operational on September 9
The Objective One programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is making £314 million of European structural funding available between 2000 and 2006.
For more information contact:
Soil Association Organic South West
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD