Senior members of the Irish agri-food industry today were urged not to be complacent when it comes to meeting the ongoing challenges for the sector and to consider the development of a 'National Food Strategy'. The message was delivered to more than 150 delegates at the ‘Shaping the Vision for Ireland’s Agri-Food Industry 2030’ conference in the Convention Centre, Dublin.
The event was organised by Ceres, a new women in agri-business network, which aims to develop and promote leadership and diverse thinking within the industry. The event featured contributions from leading figures from right across Ireland’s agri-food sector offering their perspectives on what the industry needs to do to remain competitive and relevant over the next decade.
In a panel discussion highlighting the agri-food industry’s obligation to continue to produce safe and nutritious food, Pamela Byrne, CEO of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), called for the development of a 'National Food Strategy' with clearly defined roles and responsibilities as a matter of urgency.
In the same panel, Darina Allen outlined her vision for Ireland as an organic food island and stressed the need to prepare farmers in a post-glyphosphate era who have ‘forgotten how to farm without chemicals’. In response, Michael Hoey, MD of Country Crest said that a completely organic industry was ‘not practical’ but stressed that the industry could aspire to produce the cleanest, most efficient, most sustainable food in the world.
Speaking at today's event, one of the founding members of the Ceres Network, Monica Gorman said, "Agriculture in Ireland and globally is facing many challenges and within those challenges are opportunities and risks. We were challenged this morning to be proactive and take responsibility for finding solutions. One thing we know is that no one person or organisation has all the answers and that realistically there are no easy solutions - or none that come without a cost."
She added, "With this conference we wanted to create a space for diverse voices and people to discuss in an open way some of the challenges and opportunities and we would encourage people to now take responsibility for finding the answers to your questions and actively seek these kind of spaces to create new energies, new chemistries and innovative thinking."