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Minister Sargent Pleased With Progress on Developments in the Organic Sector

Mr Trevor Sargent T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Food and Horticulture at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, receiving the fifth report from the National Steering Group for the Organic Sector from the Chairperson of the Group Mr John Duggan recently, said that he was encouraged by the progress made since the last Report.

Minister Sargent complimented the Chairperson and the members of the National Steering Group for their commitment to the process over the past number of years. The land area under organic production passed the 1% land area figure during 2008 with the current area standing at 44,600 hectares. The size of the organic retail market stands at more than €100 million in 2008, and has grown by 82% in the last 2 years. While that level of growth has slowed in recent months, the retail market is still expanding in double-digit figures. "While we are still some way off the target of 5% set down in the Programme for Government, we are certainly heading in the right direction", Minister Sargent said.

He said that some of the initiatives are having a positive impact on the sector "I was really impressed with the information available at the organic farm walks I attended during the year. Also National Organic Week was a great success this year, the earlier September date making a difference in terms of availability of local organic produce", Minister Sargent added.

He cited the publication of the Organic Farming Action Plan 2008-2102 earlier this year as the single most important initiative in driving the organic sector forward in Ireland. He hoped that "the delivery of the various actions outlined in the Plan would provide the impetus needed to help reach the target outlined in the Programme for Government".

Note for Editor

The National Steering Group for the Organic Sector is made up of representatives from the agri-food industry (including the processing and retail sectors), the organic certification bodies, the farming organisations, consumer interests and State organisations. The Chairman of the Steering Group is Mr John Duggan, formerly Chairman of Glanbia.

The Group, established in December 2002, is in its second 3-year term. The Group's objectives are:

  • to increase awareness among consumers of organic food and farming
  • to increase the production base in Ireland
  • to seek to develop sustainable export markets as supplies become available.

The National Steering Group has two sub-groups, the Partnership Expert Working Group (PEWG) and the Organic Market Development Group (OMDG), chaired by Teagasc and Bord Bia respectively.

The Fifth Progress Report of the National Steering Group for the Organic Sector can be found on the Department's website.

Date Released: 19 December 2008