IRELAND - Irish exports of agri-food product were nine per cent higher in 2013 than the year before, reaching a record of €10 billion, according to a new report from the agriculture department.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney (pictured), in announcing the publication of his Department’s Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture Food & the Marine, 2013/2014, said that 2013 showed the importance of the Irish agri-food sector in aiding economic recovery.
He said: “Agri-food exports increased by nine per cent to a record value of €10 billion in 2013, accounting for almost 12 per cent of all goods exports. The sector accounts for around nine per cent of total employment, and makes a particularly significant contribution to employment in rural areas. Capital investment in agriculture has risen 79 per cent in the last three years, with investment in farm buildings increasing by 58 per cent to €460 million in 2013 alone.”
However, there are challenges ahead. Ireland is a small open economy and volatility in world commodity prices can have serious adverse consequences in terms of lower prices for our produce or higher prices for our inputs.
“I urge farmers to plan for contingencies, including price volatility, unforeseen weather events, and plant and animal disease risk”, Minister Coveney said.
The Food Harvest strategy set ambitious targets for 2020: to increase the value of primary output by one-third, and the value of both exports and value-added by around 40 per cent; compared to the baseline period of 2007 to 2009.
Minister Coveney added: “Progress to date has been very positive. The value of overall primary output is already more than three-quarters of the way to its FH2020 target, while the value of both food and beverage exports and GVA is half-way there.
“This publication provides a reference for all those who are interested in the performance of the agri-food sector. I expect the agri-food sector to play an integral part in the recovery of our economy and the continued viability of our rural and coastal areas.”
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