IRELAND - Plans for a new ten year strategy for the Irish agri food sector has been announced by government. The new ten year strategy, Food Wise 2025, projects exports to increase to €19 billion and the creation of 23,000 new jobs by 2025. The strategy is the first time the aquaculture industry has seen a firm commitment to address the serious problems in the Irish aquaculture licencing system
Food Wise 2025 was officially launched by An Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny TD who stated: The Government is rebuilding an economy that is enterprise focused and can support sustainable full employment by 2018. This means growing each enterprise sector across the economy and creating jobs in all four corners of Ireland. Ireland's agri-food industry has led the way in Ireland's recovery. Food Wise 2025 builds on this success by identifying smarter and greener ways to deliver sustainable growth so that it can contribute to our ongoing recovery."
Speaking at the launch, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, said: “Ireland’s agri-food industry is on a sustainable journey, one that is connecting local communities across the island to vast and diverse food markets around the globe. Food Wise 2025 sets out a vision for the industry to continue along this path of sustainable growth and recognises the strategic importance of specific market and consumer insights if emerging global opportunities are to be fully realised in the decade ahead.”
Irish Farmers Association (IFA) Aquaculture Executive, Richie Flynn, said that “FoodWise 2025” took a clear direction from IFA’s “Removing Barriers” report from 2014 in highlighting this issue.
Richie Flynn said: “With 600 applications awaiting renewal, holding up vital business plans, investments and grant aid, the industry needs a short, sharp response with firm and measurable action. The independent review of licensing proposed in the report is very welcome and should take a minimal amount of time as all of the problems have been clear for many years and IFA has proposed constructive measures to revitalise the entire regime.”
“Rapidly dealing with the backlog of applications, some waiting up to eight years for movement is the priority. Removing the bottlenecks and ensuring resources are effectively applied is a straightforward task. Setting clear and achievable time limits from receipt of an application to a decision is simply best practice. Benchmarking performance of the system against international standards, reducing all the red tape, imposing definitive deadlines and breaking the never ending cycle of unnecessary delays has to be tackled courageously.”
IFA Aquaculture has warned against proposing new legislation to deal with the issue as an unnecessary distraction.
“With hard work and commitment to the principles of the existing Act (1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act) we can avoid a potentially endless road of legislation. Producers who are turning away valuable export customers cannot wait any longer for action.”
IFA Aquaculture will hold the government to the timelines in “FoodWise 2025” and push for a definitive solution to this long standing logjam.
A sustainable, export driven and confident fish and shellfish farming sector is badly needed by coastal communities and islands. Together with the new National Strategy on Aquaculture and the Harvesting our Ocean Wealth report to be launched soon, we have all the tools to fix the systematic failure of the state to deliver a modern, customer-focused licence application process.”
Commenting on the other seafood action points in “FoodWise 2025”, Mr Flynn said that the quality and reputation of Irish seafood combined with its economic importance in peripheral rural areas is a clear motivation to support the sector in any way possible.
“Our products and our people are our major assets and through quantifiable policy measures with clear timetables we can ensure that the overall targets are met and a strong basis for growth is left to the incoming generation of young seafood entrepreneurs.”
Food Wise 2025 predicts that over the next decade Ireland can:
- increase the value of agri food exports by 85 per cent to €19 billion,
- increase value added to the sector by 70 per cent to €13 billion,
- increase the value of primary production by 65 per cent to €10 billion.
This should deliver a further 23,000 jobs in the agri food sector by 2025.
The key messages from Food Wise 2025 are:
- The Irish agri-food sector has been very resilient throughout the recent economic turbulence with significant development within the sector. Food and Drink exports have out-performed other sectors of the economy (45 per cent growth in Irish Ag-food exports compared to 4 per cent for overall merchandise exports 2009-2014 period)
- Food Wise 2025 has new ambitions for the sector for further growth, growth which is sustainable – economically, socially and environmentally
- Food Wise 2025 has harnessed the collective wisdom, experience and knowledge of leading industry stakeholders and sets a course for the industry of smarter greener more sustainable growth over the next decade
- Food Wise 2025 is a statement of intent from the industry to capitalise on a host of new growth opportunities arising from the ever-increasing global demand for food and for new and innovative food solutions. Ireland is well placed to meet these demands given our comparative advantage in producing a range of sustainable, safe, nutritious and innovative food products.
TheFishSite News Desk