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Teagasc Calls for more “Dynamic Partnerships” to Enhance Global Food Security

At their third annual forum on Global Food Security in Dublin today, Friday, 12 June, Teagasc, the Irish agriculture and food development agency, called on all parties involved to form more dynamic partnerships.

The forum creates a platform for various NGOs, research institutions, the private sector and government agencies to share and discuss research across the agricultural sector, with a view to enhancing global food security. It poses the question of Ireland’s role in addressing the challenges of reducing hunger in the world’s poorest countries.

Director of Teagasc, Professor Gerry Boyle opened the forum, and welcomed delegates from across Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands and Ethiopia. “Ireland’s history, expertise and capacity in research–led agriculture, perfectly positions us to be the development leaders on food security. However, we run the risk of diluting that leadership unless we form practical and dynamic partnerships.”

Other key recommendations emerged from today’s forum, including the need to promote agricultural and in particular smallholder agricultural enterprises, as a fundamental driver of economic and social growth in lesser developed nations.

“Increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers, mainly women farmers in Africa, is the key recommendation of Irish Hunger Envoy, Kevin Farrell, in his 2011 report,” said John Weakliam, CEO of Vita. Vita is the Irish NGO fighting hunger and climate change in Africa. “Marrying the research expertise from Teagasc and the universities, the resources and business knowledge of the private sector and the development expertise of the NGOs ensures that these small holders will have access to an incredibly deep pool of knowledge and skills.”

The Vita potato programme in Chencha, Ethiopia was presented as a case study which successfully utilised knowledge transfer gleaned from a collaboration consisting of local, national and international expertise.

Other speakers at today’s event included Dr. Lance O’ Brien, Chair of the Teagasc Food Security Committee and Dr Alan Tollervey, Chief Economist with the Department for International Development, (UK).