Making Ireland a smart, sustainable farming hub now in our hands — IIEA

30 Jul 2015

All signs appear to be pointing towards Ireland being a potential worldwide sustainable farming hub following a survey which found that 86pc of national international experts and stakeholders back our current efforts.

The survey was conducted prior to the Leadership Forum on Climate-Smart Agriculture being held in Dublin on today (30 July) on behalf of the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), which wants to look into the viability of making us a country to look up to when it comes to sustainable farming.

The organisation is an Irish-based think-tank that was recently on the radar for bringing together a panel of experts on climate change in Ireland to discuss how we can reverse previous environmentally-harmful governmental policies.

In the national sample survey, which included non-government organisations (NGOs), government, agri-business, researchers and farmers, 86pc said establishing Irish leadership on climate-smart agriculture could benefit the entire agri-food sector.

From the findings, the vast majority of those surveyed identified that there are three pillars that define a country that has adopted a climate-smart agriculture model, those being: increasing farm incomes and productivity; reducing emissions, and building resilience to climate impacts.

Offering promise to Ireland’s hopes of being a climate-smart agriculture powerhouse is still up for grabs as the survey showed that currently there is no clear leader in the field, with only the Netherlands slightly ahead compared with Ireland, the UK, the US and New Zealand.

Somewhat contradictorily, however, 80pc of respondents said the Government’s aim to boost the value of Ireland’s agri-food exports by 85pc to €19bn over the next decade will be challenged by our EU obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the leading authorities on climate issues in Ireland and member of the IIEA Joseph Curtin said of the findings: “This survey is an important insight into national and international stakeholder sentiment on climate-smart agriculture. We have an opportunity to be a global leader in a version of farming that is both environmentally and economically sustainable.”

Hay bale image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic