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Minister Sargent Launches Organic Feasibility Study for Kerry

Speaking at the official commencement of the Organic Feasibility Study for County Kerry, Mr Trevor Sargent TD, Minister for Food and Horticulture at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, congratulated South Kerry Development Partnership on the initiative. He said that the Study was timely in the context of the Government's commitment in the Programme for Government to achieve 5% of the land area under organic production by 2012.

At present there are 1,440 organic operators in Ireland with approximately 44,600 hectares of land under organic production methods, which equates to over 1% of the total land area. Since 2005 there has been an increase of over 26% in the area under organic production. "It is clear, however, that we still have a long way to go to reach the target but at least we are heading in the right direction," Minister Sargent said.

As well as the continued increase in organic land area over the last number of years, there are encouraging signs at retail level also, with the Irish organic market now estimated to be worth €104 million, compared to €66 million in 2006. "The opportunity clearly exists for Ireland to increase the level of home production as opposed to imported organic produce," the Minister added.

The primary aims of the feasibility study are to identify the best market channel opportunities for the development of sustainable enterprises in the organic sector, to encourage new entrants into organic food production and to increase the number of organic producers and processors in Kerry.

Minister Sargent reiterated his commitment to the development of the organic sector in Ireland and said that he looked forward to receiving the Study findings. "I would hope that a model of best practice can be developed here in Kerry that could be replicated in other areas." Minister Sargent concluded.

Date Released: 06 October 2007