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Teagasc Welcomes Publication of Food Wise 2025

Teagasc has welcomed the publication of Food Wise 2025, a ten year strategy for the agri-food sector, launched by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny today, Thursday, 2 July. Food Wise 2025 sets out a path for the agri-food sector of sustainable growth over the next ten years. It predicts that Ireland can increase the value of exports by 85% to €19 billion, increase the value added to the sector by 70% to €13 billion and increase the value of primary production by 65% to €10 billion.

Teagasc Director Professor Gerry Boyle welcomed the publication of the strategy today. “Food Wise 2025 sets ambitious targets for the sustainable growth of the agri-food sector and provides an important roadmap for the future direction of the sector. It builds upon the gains realised since the economic crisis in 2009, where the agri-food sector has seen exports grow faster than any of the other main merchandise export sectors.”

Opportunities created from the abolition of milk quota in 2015, combined with Ireland’s natural and efficient grass based system allows for the expansion of Ireland’s most profitable agri-food sector, the dairy sector, which is very competitive internationally.

Teagasc research has shown that these targets can help to realise significant employment at the farm and processor scale and indeed across the wider value chain. The gains will be particularly felt in rural areas and towns, where most of the sector is located.

Delivery of these targets will require capacity building for the Irish agri-food sector; deploying Teagasc’s integrated research, education and extension model to optimum advantage. Teagasc is committed to working with other supporting rural based agri-professionals through our technology outreach service to maximise its impact.”

Dr Frank O’Mara, Teagasc Head of Research said: “Delivery of the new targets will require a relentless focus on the underlying productivity factors on our farms and in our food companies.” He highlighted in particular that “the main productivity improvements can be generated in terms of the sustainable use of our grasslands, and improving soil fertility. Animal productivity can be achieved through the use of the next generation of animal genomics and generating profit through healthy animals driven by genetics.”

He pointed out that “Teagasc research is developing infrastructure that can help the sector to generate these gains, whether it be through the use of big data to allow for precision farming, developments in survey collection that measure and monitor Ireland’s sustainability credentials, improvements in water quality that can be realised through Catchment Science research and nutrient management planning software tool.

“At the food processing level, the development of a Food Innovation Hub, translating ‘food for health’ science into practice and enhancing the scientific absorption capacity of the agri-food SME sector through industry based students will help to facilitate growth.”

Dr Tom Kelly, Teagasc Head of Knowledge Transfer said: “Realising these gains will require the translation of research into practice and the improvement of on farm skills. Teagasc has developed a new dairy expansion service and a Diploma in Professional Dairy Farm Management to facilitate growth in the dairy sector. The Kildalton ‘Open Source’ Sustainable Farm can highlight how expansion can occur in both a profitable and sustainable manner.”

“Key to reaching these targets for farmers, in a more volatile operating environment is to become better managers, facilitated by the Getting Farm Financially Fit campaign run by Teagasc in partnership with 23 other partners in the Agribusiness sector. Teagasc’s Options plus programme will facilitate skills development for farmers looking for off-farm sources of income”

“Upskilling our farmers through flexible education and training pathways focused on life-long learning will be essential to realise these gains. Record numbers attending Teagasc’s Agricultural Colleges are a testament to the ambition in the sector. However facilitating this transition in a managed way, it will be essential to make collaborative farming the norm in succession and inheritance transitions.”