The final report on the Maximising Organic Production Systems (MOPS) project – an initiative under the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) – has been published.

This four-year project, which involved 11 certified organic vegetable and fruit producers and was run by the Irish Organic Association, sought to investigate, and provide solutions to, the barriers to the growth and development of organic horticulture in Ireland.

For the duration of the project, these vegetable and fruit producers, along with researchers, agronomists and industry representatives, worked together to increase the supply of Irish-grown organic horticultural fresh produce.

And it was a case of mission accomplished as sales of such produce increased by 112% from €3.8 million to €8.2 million between 2017 and 2020 for the 11 producers.

The report outlines the main headline results for the project, in terms of horticulture production, market research, green manure field trials, dissemination and knowledge sharing.

These headlines are:

  • Since 2015 sales of organic vegetables increased by 20% year on year;
  • Sales increased by 112% from €3.8 million to €8.2 million between 2017 and 2020 for the 11 MOPS EIP project growers;
  • The total cropping area for organic vegetables increased by 40% among the MOPS growers during the project;
  • The MOPS growers worked together and increased sales among the group by 62% to increase supply to retailers;
  • Irish retailers are keen to support the organic horticulture industry and the most popular Irish crops sold in the Irish multiple retailers are onions, potatoes and carrots;
  • A trail on green manures on one of the project farms found that short-term green manures can readily and profitably be incorporated into Irish organic vegetable production;
  • A grower’s report and technical on-farm videos were produced so that growing techniques may be replicated by other growers.

In launching the report, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Senator Pippa Hackett, thanked the 11 producers, the operational group members and the project team members for participating in the project.

“The MOPS project shows how growers can adapt to market demand and increase the supply of Irish organic vegetables and fruit.

“This is really vital evidence given our ambition for the sector to increase our area under production in Ireland,” the minister said.