New Organic Sector Strategy Group kicks into gear

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, today attended the inaugural meeting of the new Organic Sector Strategy Group in Agriculture House.

The group comprises of representatives of the department, Teagasc, Bord Bia, BIM, IFA, ICMSA, ICSA and a wide range of stakeholders including the Organic Meat, Dairy, Horticulture, Cereals and Aquaculture Sectors.

Speaking today, Minister Doyle said: “The market for Irish organic produce continues to grow each year and is currently valued at €162 million.

If you add other activities such as farmers’ markets and online sales, the estimated value is over €200 million. While there are challenges, there is definitely scope for further growth given the market demand.

“The principal objective of this group will be to develop a strategy to ensure that the organic sector avails of the opportunities that exist and maximises its contribution to economic growth and exports in an environmentally sustainable manner over the coming years.”

Changing of the guard

Acknowledging the commitment and resolve of stakeholders to further develop the Sector to its full potential, Minister Doyle paid tribute to the work of the previous Organic Focus Group and the progress made.

Paying tribute to the outgoing chairman of Organic Focus, Minister Doyle said: “During a challenging time for the sector, I commend Mel O’Rourke for his commitment and contribution to the development of the organic sector over the past six years.”

Minister Doyle appointed Martin Heraghty, a former assistant secretary of the department, to chair the new group.

Minister of State, Andrew Doyle, at the inaugural meeting of the new Organic Sector Strategy Group

With regard to the appointment, the minister stated: “I believe Martin, who has a wealth of agri-food sector and EU experience, is an excellent choice for chairman.

“I want to thank the members of the Organic Sector Strategy Group for taking on this challenge and to thank Martin for agreeing to chair it.”

The new group is tasked with developing a strategy for the development of the organic sector for the period up to 2025.

It is expected the draft organic sector strategy will be presented to the minister within six to eight months