Professor Charles Spillane, Head of Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC), NUI Galway (left) and Paul Wagstaff, Agriculture Advisor, Concern Worldwide (right) at IFIAD Launch
Oct 14 2016 Posted: 16:05 IST

Harnessing the knowledge of the Irish agriculture sector can significantly contribute to ending hunger and poverty for millions of people in the Developing World.

Joe McHugh T.D, Minister of State for the Disapora and Overseas Development Aid launches the Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD)

 

Such is the belief of the founders of an innovative new consortium that has brought the Irish agriculture and research sectors together with some of the country’s leading development charities, in a bid to leverage Irish know-how to increase agriculture productivity and combat hunger in the Developing World.

 

 

 

 

Founding members of the new Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD) are the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Irish Aid, Teagasc, Agri-Science departments at NUI Galway, UCC and UCD, along with leading international development charities Gorta-Self Help Africa, Vita, Concern Worldwide, Trocaire and Misean Cara, private companies such as Sustainable Food Systems Ireland and Greenfield International and leading farmer associations ICMSA, ICSA, IFA and Macra na Feirme.

Dr Una Murray, Nua Consulting (left) and Dr Peter McKeown, Coordinator of MScCCAFS program at NUI Galway (right) at IFIAD Launch

The successful trialing in Eritrea, one of Africa’s poorest countries, of a potato variety shipped from Ireland offered a tangible example of what the new forum could achieve, the official launch of IFIAD heard, at the RDS in Dublin yesterday. Consortium members, including Teagasc, the Irish Potato Industry, Gorta-Self Help Africa and Vita had introduced the Electra variety, and provided their Eritrean counterparts with technical support and assistance. Early results showed that potato yields had tripled for Eritrean farmers as a result. Last year, Eritrea became the seventh member of the Irish Potato Forum.

Representatives from national and international agriculture, agri-business and development aid sectors attended the launch, which was addressed by Minister Joe McHugh TD, and by guest speakers including Dr Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Paul Winters, Director of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD).

Derrie Dillon, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Manager, Macra na Feirme (left) and Kevin Kilcline, Coordinator of MScAgriBiosciences program at NUI Galway (right) at IFIAD Launch

At the launch, Minister Joe McHugh TD said: “Bringing together Irish agricultural and development expertise in this way is a great opportunity for all of us. IFIAD will help us to collectively strengthen our partnerships and continue our work to eradicate hunger and poverty.”

The Forum’s Chair, Dr Lance O’Brien, Head of Strategy and International Relations at Teagasc said: “this new initiative will create a platform to allow the knowledge, expertise and commitment of the Irish farming sector to be harnessed to deliver a more focused impact on addressing the challenge of food security in developing countries.”

 

Professor Charles Spillane, from the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre at NUI Galway said that “IFIAD is a much needed and timely initiative that has the potential to bring a more coordinated, coherent and impact-oriented approach to Irish agricultural policies, programmes, research and training focused on reducing poverty in developing countries”

NUI Galway MScCCAFS students attending IFIAD launch; Kekae Kelebogile (South Africa); Rachael Murphy (Ireland); Lorna Born (South Africa) and Sarina Motsuki (South Africa) (from left to right).

 

Chief Executive of Gorta-Self Help Africa Ray Jordan said that upwards of 70% of people in the Developing World directly relied on farming for their survival. If even a fraction of the learning and successes of Irish agriculture would be transposed to Africa and other poorer regions, it would lift many millions of people out of extreme poverty.”

Visit: www.ifiad.org for more information.

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