Research & Development - MacAulay Land Institute Project

THE MACAULAY LAND USE RESEARCH INSTITUTE - LEWIS ENDOWMENT FUND

News Release
“FUNDING AWARDS FOR LEWIS CROFTING PROJECTS”
The Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen has announced funding for four local projects on Lewis. The individual awards are between £1000-£2500, with the money coming from the Lewis Endowment Fund. This Fund was set up over 75 years ago through an endowment from Dr T.B. Macaulay of the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, which also led to the creation of the Macaulay Institute itself. The Fund provides support to projects related to crofting and other land-based enterprises on Lewis.

The Brue and Tom Buidhe Folds of Pedigree Highland Cattle are to receive funding towards the installation of webcam technology for remote monitoring of stock and the creation of an internet interface both for local schools and wider educational purposes. Kenny Matheson of the Brue Fold, who is a member of the project team, said “both ourselves and Bill Hendry of the Tom Buidhe Fold, have made a considerable investment in pedigree stock and cattle handling facilities over recent years and the Lewis Endowment Fund money will allow us to trial modern technology and provide information from our ongoing carefully controlled studies to evaluate the benefits of providing these improvements for high quality Scotch beef production and pedigree cattle breeding on Lewis. We hope that our work will benefit and encourage other island cattle producers and to have our website (www.bruehighlanders.co.uk) up and running by the end of May 2006”.

The Lewis & Harris Cattle Producer Group will get support towards a benchmarking project. The aim of this project is to quantify costs and performance of cattle herds and compare these against Scotland standards, and against results in other peripheral areas where similar initiatives exist. Information will be collected in relation to the physical performance of cattle, their financial performance and animal health and welfare. Yvonne Richardson of Back, who is the co-ordinator of the Group said that “this project is a great opportunity to examine the costs of cattle production in the area, compare these with production costs in other areas and identify ways of improving efficiency.”

Lewis & Harris Horticultural Producers have received funding towards the purchase of an enclosed trailer for the storage/transport of existing market equipment used weekly at Stornoway Produce Market. This voluntary group of producers was formed in 1999 with the aim of developing horticulture as a viable form of diversification for crofters and other small land-holders. Membership now stands at 82 individuals. The group has developed and maintained a presence at the Stornoway Produce Market. Donald Murdie of Valasay, chairperson for the Horticultural Producers said that the funds “will allow us to purchase an enclosed trailer for the transport and storage of our market equipment. We can also use it as a sales facility at other locations in the islands and at the agricultural shows, as well as for the hygienic transport of produce”.

The Lewis & Harris Sheep Producers Association has received money towards the development of a website for direct sales of Lewis & Harris Lamb. Neil Macleod of Stornoway, chairman of the Producers Association said that “the creation of this web facility could have a great impact on the direct sales of lamb. Lamb will be slaughtered and cut in the Comhairle abbatoir in Stornoway and dispatched boxed to customers. The web site will provide an on-line payment facility as well as other functionality”.

Dr Richard Birnie, who manages the Lewis Endowment Fund on behalf of the Macaulay Institute, said that “we have been working closely with the Scottish Crofting Foundation and the Crofters Commission in evaluating the funding applications for this financial year. We were very pleased with the requests we have had, and I am only sorry that we have not been able to support more projects. However, I feel that all the projects that are getting funding should provide enduring benefits to the wider community on Lewis. I am particularly pleased that several are exploiting the potential benefits of the Web for direct marketing of produce and for educational purposes.”

The Lewis Endowment Fund can provide about £5000 a year to projects that will directly or indirectly benefit crofting or other land-based enterprises on Lewis. Anybody interested in finding out more about the Lewis Endowment Fund, and how to apply for funding, should contact Dr Birnie at the Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen (r.birnie@macaulay.ac.uk). The deadline for applications for next year is 31st October 2006. (Dated 5th May 2006)