Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with special responsibility for new market development, Martin Heydon, today (September 14) led a Bord Bia ‘Driving Growth in West Africa’ client seminar.

The virtual event featured insights from senior commercial stakeholders on trading with West Africa, focusing in particular on the dairy, seafood, and alcohol sectors.

Minister Heydon stated: “Ireland has consistently supplied quality, safe and sustainable food worldwide.

“With a population of 320 million, markets in West Africa provide a significant opportunity for our agri-food exports.

“Bord Bia plays a critical role here in ensuring that Irish suppliers and customers continue to build and foster strong and enduring relationships in this region.” 

Strategic approach to West Africa

The minister said that his department is strongly engaged in the government’s strategic approach to Africa in terms of both trade and development.

The minister has highlighted one example as being the Africa Agri-Food Development Programme (AADP).

This programme is jointly funded by the DAFM and the Department of Foreign Affairs, to support Irish agri-food companies to partner with African companies in the development of sustainable local food enterprises.

It is also aimed at supporting the growth of markets for local produce and to facilitate mutual trade between Ireland and Africa, according to the junior minister.

Exports to other countries

While the minister for new market development focuses on new opportunities around the world, there is still no sign of a resumption of Irish beef exports to China.

It’s over one year since since beef exports were suspended due to the discovery of an atypcial BSE [bovine spongiform encephalopathy] case in a 14-year-old animal in Co. Tipperary.

Atypical BSE does not have any impact on a country’s official BSE risk status, however Chinese authorities have yet to indicate when exports of Irish beef to the country will be able to resume.

Last week, Brazil halted its beef exports to China following confirmation of two cases of ‘atypical’ BSE at separate abattoirs.

However, China is expected to resume imports of Brazilian beef within the next week.