Thursday, 6 October 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
35. Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views of the role that agriculture and the agrifood sector can play in economic recovery here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27717/11]
39. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the role that agriculture and the agrifood sector can play in economic recovery here with particular regard to the Food Harvest 2020 report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27713/11]
I consider that agriculture and the broader agrifood and fishing sector has the potential to play a significant role in this country’s economic recovery. Specifically its capacity to assist the export-led recovery is illustrated by the CSO data which show that Ireland’s agrifood exports increased by 11% in 2010 over 2009 and have also shown a 14% improvement in the first six months of 2011 vis-à-vis the same period in 2010.
To ensure the continued development of the sector, I am personally leading the implementation of Food Harvest 2020 which sets out the industry’s strategic vision for the next decade and which contains over 200 recommendations designed to assist the industry achieve its key growth targets. Fuller details on targets and policies being pursued are available in my answer to Parliamentary Question No. 25 of today’s date.
36. Deputy Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food further to his recent trip to Algeria, if he will outline the opportunities for the Irish agrifood sector in that region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27714/11]
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Deputy Simon Coveney): Having regard to the targets set in the Food Harvest 2020 Strategy, it is essential that we develop and grow our export markets for food and drinks to ensure that we have markets for the proposed growth in production in the dairy, meats, drinks and other sectors. Both the Algerian and African markets generally present many opportunities for Irish companies to expand their exports of food and drinks.
Algeria is a key target market for growth in Irish dairy exports. Irish food exports to Algeria have increased from €22m in 2009 to €39m in 2010 with the bulk of these exports comprising dairy exports with a value of nearly €38m in 2010. Cheese exports amount to nearly €27m. Algeria is now the second most important export destination for cheese exports after the UK. Exports of beef amounted to €1.13m in 2010.
The purpose of my visit to Algeria was to enhance trade and official relations with Algeria, to build relationships at governmental level and to raise some market access issues. In addition, in officially opening an Irish dairy packing and distribution plant which had relocated from France to Algeria, my visit provided an important signal to the Algerian administration of the long term commitment of Ireland to the Algerian market. I also officiated at the opening of an Irish Algerian retail outlet in Oran, again providing an important showcase for Irish products and for the Irish retail approach to the sale of quality products.
My meeting with the Algerian Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Minister Benaissa on 25 September was very constructive. In addition to a discussion on market access issues, we discussed the possibilities of partnerships with Algeria in the context of the development of its food industry. I extended an invitation to Minister Benaissa to visit Ireland and I would hope that as a result of that meeting he and his officials and some Algerian companies will visit Ireland. I also received an invitation and met with Mr Abdel Malek Boudiaf, the Regional Governor of Oran which is a key centre for administration and development in Algeria.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Deputy Simon Coveney): The latest CSO data, covering the first six months of 2011, show a continued growth in Ireland’s agrifood exports following on from an increase of 11% in 2010. The combined value of exports in the categories Food and Live Animals and Beverages during the first half of the year was €4.279 billion, an increase of more than 14% on the first half of 2010, showing the agrifood sector’s continuing contribution to this country’s economic recovery.
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