European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan told those gathered at the Institute of Technology, Tralee (IT Tralee) this morning, Friday, March 5, that the possibilities for graduates both here in Ireland and overseas “are endless”.

He also said that knowledge and technology are at the very heart of matters and crucial to the future of food production and environmental protection.

The EU commissioner – who was speaking at a pre-launch event of the new degree programme in International Agricultural Engineering – said the degree is an exciting development because it is “an excellent time” to be entering the field of agricultural engineering.

“The possibilities are endless for graduates, both here in Ireland and abroad; the fact that your graduates will gain experience in several countries will stand to them. Collaboration across national borders is the way to go,” he added.

“Graduates may start or join agri-food companies; they may code or build better machines; they can build new Irish companies and brands; and whatever they choose they will contribute to keeping our rural areas vibrant.”

The commissioner then went on to point to the “important work” that future graduates would undertake.

“The work that graduates will do is more important than ever. Global events of recent years have brought agricultural science, research and innovation back to the prominent position they deserve,” Commissioner Hogan continued.

“Concerns over commodity prices, food security and climate change have reminded us how vital it is to invest in this area of research and innovation.”

Climate change

Furthermore, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said the¬†drought in Ireland and across Europe last summer was a reminder to everyone that “we can no longer afford to be complacent about the climate threat”.

“Producing sufficient – and sufficiently healthy – food for everyone, now and in the future, in Europe and globally while facing more extreme weather, resource scarcity, fickle markets and demanding consumers will require more knowledge and technology,” he confirmed.

What is needed is knowledge and technology leading to more competitive and sustainable primary production.

Hogan continued: “We need knowledge and technology that will protect the environment in the context of new value chains; and knowledge and technology that will cater for the varied needs of our hugely diverse stakeholders, systems and territories.

“The work that future graduates do will directly serve these important goals.”