Calls are increasing in political circles for more places to be made available for prospective Green Cert students following a surge in demand in recent months.

The Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) Level 5 Certificate in Agriculture and Level 6 Specific Purpose Certificate in Farming – better known as the Green Cert – is required to be a qualified farmer for the purposes of Revenue and Department of Agriculture schemes.

Commenting on the matter, Fianna Fáil senator Robbie Gallagher made a case for more places to be introduced for Green Certificates, adding his voice to earlier calls.

Senator Gallagher said: “Green Certificates are vitally important in the agriculture sector. These Green Certificates allow young people to avail of existing grants and schemes in the sector, and it also makes the inheritance of land a more viable option.

“We have a chronic lack of places where it is possible to earn Green Certificates now.

There was an incident recently in Westport in Mayo where 450 people applied for some 200 places in respect of Green Certs – and those places were taken up within six minutes. Westport College of Further Education has stated that it has demand for about 1,000 places in 2021.

Speaking in the Seanad, senator Gallagher asked “that this issue be addressed by the relevant minister or ministers”.

“What is needed here are simply more places on the course in question for green certificates and more tutors to deliver those courses so that young people can enter the farming sector without obstruction, which is what we want them to do,” the senator concluded.