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Growing Organics Event - RDS

Teagasc - RDS in association with Horizon 2020 LIFT - April 1st 2022

Background: The Irish government has set a target of having 7.5% of utilisable land area farmed organically by 2027. Given that there is currently 2% of the land area farmed organically, this presents a significant challenge for the Irish organic sector but may also provide opportunities to diversify the current agricultural model to add more value to Irish agri-food products.

Trebling organic production will require major changes, agronomic and cultural and the involvement and support of the entire organic value chain from policy makers, research, extension and farm families to processors, marketing agencies and consumers. The aim of this event was twofold: to elicit expert opinion from a broad range of sectoral stakeholders on the what changes are necessary to achieve this goal and secondly, to discuss practical solutions for the implementation of these changes.

View recording of the event below

Read also Underpinning Organics - Abstracts of Teagasc Research

Event Outline

2pm - Welcome: Prof. Cathal O’Donoghue, Chair, RDS Foundation Board, and Established Chair of Public Policy, NUI Galway

Opening Address: Pippa Hackett, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Moderator: Mr Damien O’Reilly, RTE

Session 1 – Opportunities and Challenges in ‘Growing Organics’ – what are they?

Keynote speaker: Ms Elena Panichi, Head of Organics Unit, DG Agriculture & Rural Development, European Commission 

Research presentation: Prof. Andrew Barnes (Scotland’s Rural College & H2020 LIFT) – Adoption of Agro-ecological measures


  • Ms Gillian Westbrook (MOPS: Maximising Organic Production Systems & Irish Organic Association) - Experiences from a European Innovation Partnership 
  • Prof Helen Sheridan, UCD, Ecologist
  • Mr John Kiersey (Dairy farmer/RDS Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee) – What would conversion to organics involve?
  • Mr Mark Gillanders - Organic Grower/ Organic Wheat Milling/IFA Representative - Increasing supply to meet demand

Feedback from/to participants - questions raised in chat function & SLIDO polls               

Session 2: What is necessary to Grow Irish Organic Production?

Keynote speaker: Mr Paul Holmbeck, Former Director Organic Denmark – Insights from Denmark 

Research presentation: Dr Kevin Kilcline (Research Economist - Lift project, Teagasc) – Learnings from LIFT


  • Dr Stan Lalor (Head of Knowledge Transfer Directorate, Teagasc) – What can Teagasc do to support organic expansion?
  • Mr John Purcell (Good Herdsmen Organic Meat Processor) - Opportunities and Challenges?
  • Mr Joe Burke (Bord Bia) Organic markets – Opportunities and barriers to organic market development
  • Mr Jack Nolan (Head - Organic Division, Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine)

Feedback from/to participants - questions raised in chat function & SLIDO polls

4pm - International Reflections and Closing Address: Professor Frank O’Mara (Director, Teagasc)

Underpinning Organics - Abstracts of Teagasc Research

Teagasc is in the process of building specialised organic expertise, to upskill both advisers and farmers in relation to organic principles and technologies, to help to achieve the ambitious organic targets. In terms of research, Teagasc is undertaking a strategic review of the longterm research needs of the sector. In the short-term, we have collated abstracts of some of the Teagasc research that is relevant for the organic sector.

Download full publication here Underpinning Organics - Abstracts of Teagasc Research (PDF)