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Key Note Address by Minister Coveney in Nanjing Agriculture University Ireland's Contribution to the Future of Sustainable Agriculture

In one of the most prestigious agriculture Universities in China, Minister Simon Coveney TD made a key note speech before a packed audience, on Ireland's contribution to the future of sustainable agriculture, in the context of the major global challenges of food security and climate change. Following the address, Minister Coveney took questions from Chinese Agriculture students.

He outlined the centrality of agriculture to the major global challenges, traced the development of the Irish agri-food sector from subsistence farming in 1950s to the modern sophisticated export orientated industry that it is today.

He outlined the influence of the Common Agriculture policy on its development before going on to detail the measures taken to promote sustainable agriculture in Ireland which built on the strong food safety standards and controls underpinning the sector.

Speaking at the University, Minister Coveney stated that "food security, climate change, market volatility, extreme weather events, competition for land use and water scarcity are just some of the major challenges that are faced by governments, policy makers, scientists and researchers. All are challenges that serve to underscore the fact that globally our agriculture resources are finite and in some cases under severe pressure."

He added that "to set the issue of food security and climate change in context at a global level, the projections for the growth in the world human population are staggering. The human population is rapidly expanding and is set to rise by an additional 2 billion to 9 billion people by 2050, which means that we must produce, in a sustainable way, 70% more food over the next four decades to meet the demands of a growing population. The scale and challenge are enormous."

Highlighting the importance of agriculture in this issue he stated that "Globally, agriculture is both part of the problem and part of the solution to climate change. Activities relating to the production of food currently contributes between a quarter and a third of the GHG emissions that cause global climate change. Reducing the effect of climate change on food supplies, livelihood and economies are therefore a priority for Governments, however, in seeking to reduce the GHG emissions from agriculture, it must be a balanced approach and must respect the need for food security and a decent livelihood or rural populations. The challenge is therefore to increase agriculture production in a sustainable manner or to adopt ‘sustainable intensification'. Due to the relative importance of the agriculture sector, Ireland is to the forefront in research aimed at reducing GHG emissions from the Sector. Ireland is the Founder member of the Global Research alliance on Agricultural GHG emissions, whose objective is to pool the resources of like minded countries to enable the agriculture sector to continue to reduce emissions".

He concluded that "as an export and market orientated industry with high standards of food safety and quality, the agri-food industry in Ireland has an important role to play in contributing to the international security of food supply for the millions beyond our shores and to do so in a sustainable way. It is in the area of sustainable agriculture production that Ireland may be able to share its experience and expertise with China".


For the full address click here

added 19.04.12


Date Released: 19 April 2012