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Challenges must be addressed to ensure the future viability of the horticulture sector, new report warns

KPMG report makes recommendations for the future of Irish horticulture

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14 July 2022 | 0

KPMG has made a series of recommendations of the future of Irish horticulture in a newly published report.

Titled ‘Opportunities for the Irish horticulture sector’, the report provides an overview of the current context for the horticulture industry, the state of play in each of the seven sub-sectors, lessons from international case studies and highlights the actions that can help to address challenges and develop opportunities for the sector.

While the sector holds potential for growth, the report stated that “numerous challenges need to be addressed to ensure the future viability of the sector. Accordingly, a strategic ambition is needed to guide the co-ordinated pursuit of opportunities to realise the sector’s potential.

Such a strategic ambition should be to grow a more profitable value-added sector driven by sustainability and innovation.”

It said the most direct way to achieve would come from giving existing growers and businesses the confidence to expand and diversify profitable enterprises.

Horticulture is one of the most carbon efficient sectors of Irish agriculture, presenting an opportunity to support Ireland’s efforts to curb carbon emissions and enhance sustainability. Accordingly, the vision for the horticulture sector can focus on sustainability in terms of environmental, economic, and social sustainability, to strengthen the future viability of Irish horticulture.

The majority of horticulture output is consumed domestically at present, which the report said signals a lost value opportunity. Most of Ireland’s fruit and vegetables are imported (approximately 83%), implying a significant trade deficit in the sector. At 85%, only mushrooms and amenity horticulture are significant exporters.

The report said there is a potential opportunity to displace some imports with increased domestic production while expanding the share of products outside of current staples.

Meanwhile, it stated that policy action, co-ordination, and collaboration between the sector’s key stakeholders is crucial to achieving an outcome where the horticulture sector can be viable, grow and thrive.

The report was welcomed by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State with responsibility for Horticulture, Pippa Hackett.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue agreed with the report finding that “there is no single solution that can ensure the successful development of the Irish horticulture sector. The most direct way to achieve the sector’s ambition will come from giving existing growers and businesses the confidence to expand and diversify profitable enterprises.”

While each sub-sector presents its own challenges and opportunities, there are key cross-cutting factors that are applicable to the overall sector. The report highlights the actions that can help to address challenges faced as well as developing opportunities for the sector.

Minister Hackett added that: “There is more work to be done – and that the development of an overarching Strategy for the sector driven by sustainability and innovation, to be published early next year, will ensure the growth and prosperity of this important sector.”

The report is available to download from https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/380b3-horticulture/

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