Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland highlights the Food Wise 2025 strategy and its aims to tackle the challenges facing the Irish agri-food sector…
Food Wise 2025, the ten year strategy for the Irish agri-food sector published in July last year, is the successor to the Food Harvest 2020 strategy. It identifies the opportunities and challenges facing the sector and provides an enabling strategy that will allow the sector to grow and prosper. It sets out a vision for the industry to continue along the path of sustainable growth and recognises the strategic importance of specific market and consumer insights if emerging global opportunities are to be fully realised in the decade ahead.
Food Wise 2025 puts particular emphasis on harnessing the broad experience, expertise and knowledge of the Irish agri-food sector and in ensuring this collective wisdom is used to deliver future growth in ways that emphasise the improvement, development and adoption of sustainable processes, using natural resources in a manner which protects them into the future. A guiding principle that Food Wise 2025 seeks to embed at all levels of the agri-food industry is that environmental protection and economic competiveness are equal and complementary: one will not be achieved at the expense of the other.
Food Wise 2025 identifies smarter and greener ways to deliver sustainable growth and recommends actions to best support the sector’s development. Food Wise includes more than 400 detailed recommendations, spread across the cross-cutting themes of sustainability, innovation, human capital, market development and competitiveness; as well as specific sectoral recommendations. If these recommendations are implemented, the expert committee which drew up Food Wise considers that ambitious growth projections are achievable by 2025, including increasing the value of agri-food exports by 85% to €19bn, and the creation of 23,000 additional jobs in the agri-food sector, all along the supply chain from primary production to high value added product development. Realising these growth projections will be challenging, but I am confident that they can be achieved.
The government is strongly committed to the implementation of the Food Wise strategy. Indeed it is a key element of the Programme for Government. I chair the Food Wise High Level Implementation Committee (HLIC), with representatives from all the relevant government departments and state agencies. The committee reviews progress on detailed actions on a quarterly basis, in order to identify and solve problems quickly. Stakeholders regularly engage with the committee on their priorities for particular sectors or themes. By the end of this year, the HLIC will have reviewed in detail progress on the 5 cross-cutting themes and the 12 individual sectors outlined in Food Wise 2025. So it is very much a live and continuously updated process.
The agri-food sector is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, contributing €26bn in turnover. Last year, the value of Irish food and drink exports increased to €10.8bn, representing growth of over 50% since 2009.
I believe that Ireland is well positioned to be the world leader in sustainable agri-food production, and indeed environmental sustainability is central to the Food Wise strategy. The Origin Green programme is the first national sustainability programme of its kind in the world. Companies representing 95% of Ireland’s food and drink exports have signed up to the programme, and over 800 farms a week are being audited on a range of measures, including carbon foot printing.
Schemes under the Rural Development Programme focus on supporting farming methods which protect the environment, while improving efficiency.
Since my appointment as Minister, I have enjoyed engaging with individual farmers, fishermen and food producers, as well as their representative organisations. I have been struck by the commitment on all sides to work together for the sustainable growth of the sector. I am confident that this shared approach will result in a ‘triple win’ of economic, environmental and social benefits for Ireland as a whole, and for rural Ireland in particular.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine