Thursday, 6 December 2018

Questions (204)

Bernard Durkan


204. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which indicators in respect of Food Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025 remain in line with expectations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51457/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The main targets set out in the Food Harvest report published in 2010 were, by 2020, to increase the value of primary output by 33% and agri-food exports by 40% (both from a 2007-09 average baseline); and to increase value added production by 40% (from a 2008 baseline). In addition to these value increases, a target was set for a 50% increase in milk production by 2020, to be progressed following the abolition of milk quotas in April 2015.

Progress on those targets is monitored and reviewed on an ongoing basis. The latest data available show growth of 36% for both primary production and exports (based on 2016 data), and 47% for value added (latest available data 2014), versus the baseline period, demonstrating excellent progress. The target of a 50% increase in milk volume has already been achieved.

Food Wise 2025, the latest ten year strategy for the agri-food sector published in July 2015, is the successor to the Food Harvest strategy. It identifies the opportunities and challenges facing the sector and provides an enabling strategy that will allow the sector to grow and prosper. Food Wise includes more than 400 specific recommendations, spread across the cross-cutting themes of sustainability, innovation, human capital, market development and competitiveness; as well as specific sectoral recommendations.

If these recommendations are implemented, the expert committee, which drew up the Food Wise 2025 Strategy, believed that the following growth projections are achievable by 2025: increasing the value of agri-food exports by 85% to €19 billion; increasing value added in the sector by 70% to in excess of €13 billion; and increasing the value of primary production by 65% to almost €10 billion. With regard to employment, Food Wise foresees the creation of 23,000 additional jobs in the agri-food sector all along the supply chain from primary production to high value added product development.

In July this year, I launched the third annual progress report of Food Wise 2025: Steps to Success 2018. This showed that by 2017 exports had increased by 15.9% and primary production by 8.9% compared with the baseline. The CSO's Labour Force Survey has replaced the Quarterly National Household Survey which has resulted in a recalculation of employment figures. The agri-food sector continued to make a significant contribution to employment at national and regional levels accounting for 174,400 (7.9%) of total employment based on the 2017 average.

Steps to Success 2018 also showed that, of the 375 detailed actions which were due to commence by 2018 or are on-going actions; 74% have been achieved or substantial action has been undertaken; and a further 26% have commenced and are progressing well.