Department launches 7-year strategy for organic food

Andrew Doyle, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has announced plans for the development of the organic food sector in Ireland.

The seven-year strategy will be implemented from 2019 to 2025, and includes a number of recommendations for taking account of the projected market developments in the sector.

Minister Doyle, who has responsibility for food, forestry and horticulture, said the strategy sets out “a clear vision for the growth of the Irish organic food sector to 2025”.

We know that growth opportunities for the sector both nationally and internationally are significant and this strategy will help the Irish sector realise its potential. The Irish organic retail market is worth €162 million, with a further €44 million generated by direct sales. The market for organic food in Ireland grew by 10.5% in 2017.

The strategy will be an industry-led initiative, which will be chaired by Martin Heraghty, a former assistant secretary at the department.

The department claims that the plans reflect what is in the best interests for stakeholders, after a public consultation process that allowed them to voice their opinions on what form the strategy should take.

“This strategy is further evidence of the commitment of this Government to the Irish organic sector. Under our Rural Development Programme (2014-2020) we set a target to attract 16,000ha of new land and maintain 46,000ha of converted land,” said Minister Doyle.

Minister Doyle added that this target has been exceeded, with 72,000ha of land currently used for organic production – a 50% increase since 2014.

I wish to pay tribute to the work carried out by the strategy group for their commitment to the further development of the organic sector. Our focus now moves the priority to delivering the actions identified within the new strategy.

The minister concluded by saying that the strategy group will have its first meeting “in the very near future”, and that he will make a further announcement regarding its membership.