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Teagasc Rural Development Conference

The Teagasc Rural Development Conference taking place in Limerick today, has heard how the Irish economy is in recovery phase now, with over 80,000 new jobs created in the past 2 years. Growth in the Small and Medium Sized Food Enterprises (SME’s) is identified as being very important to deliver jobs in the future particularly in rural areas. One of the key challenges for Food SME’s, identified by the CEDRA (Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas) report, is the development of export pathways to exploit the higher potential on overseas markets.

The morning session of today’s conference is drawing on the experiences of past participants in the Rural Innovation Awards in addition to insights from successful entrepreneurs. In the afternoon, the focus is on enterprise supports necessary for rural businesses to develop or expand an enterprise. Some of the entrepreneurs addressing the conference include Pat McDonagh, Supermacs, Prof Bill Ashton, University of Guelph, John Francis Concannon, JFC and Paul McCarthy, Full Health Medical.

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “While we have seen in the Teagasc National Farm Survey results that off-farm employment has improved in recent years, for farmers to maximise their capacity to access these new employment opportunities there may be a need to improve relevant skills. Teagasc through its Options Plus programme and DAFM are working with the relevant skills delivery agencies to develop a web portal called Opt-In, which will circulate targeted skills training opportunities to Teagasc clients, starting this year in two pilot counties (Tipperary and Limerick ).

Head of the Teagasc Rural Economy and Development programme, Prof Cathal O Donoghue said: “We have heard valuable insights from finalists in our Rural Innovation Awards which have been run by Teagasc in association with DARDNI and Irish Farmers Journal for 9 years now. We are grateful for the attendance of John Concannon who was the founding sponsor. We hope that the lessons learnt from these successful businesses will be useful to agencies here who develop programmes of support for businesses.”

Professor O'Donoghue’s presentation is available at the link below.

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