Dairy, fruit and veg have best growth potential in organic sector, research finds
According to research, the categories with the greatest growth potential in the domestic market are fruit and vegetables, and dairy, but insufficient organic cereals is stopping the growth of organic dairy and meat sectors.
The Bord Bia research shows that while a large proportion of the total organic tillage crop is dedicated to oats, there is insufficient supply to meet demand.
Furthermore, the insufficient supply of organic cereals and proteins is inhibiting the growth of the organic dairy, meat, and aquaculture sectors.
This deficit in supply also necessitates importation which increases costs of production and therefore impacts competitiveness, according to the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, who was answering Dail questions from TD Eamon Ryan.
The former leader of the Green Party had asked about arrangements for opening the Organic Scheme.
Minister Creed said that the new Organic Farming Scheme under the current Rural Development Programme has proved extremely successful, attracting more new applicants than any scheme previously, and encouraging a significant number of Irish farmers to convert to organic farming systems.
"Latest figures indicate that there are now some 72,000 hectares under organic production, an increase of nearly 50pc on the position at the start of the Programme in 2014."
Key areas to be targeted should be organic horticulture, cereals and dairy, he said.
Based on the recommendation of the Organic Sector Strategy Group, the Organic Farming Scheme was re-opened last month.
"An allocation of €1.25m has been provided to facilitate the re-opening of this Scheme. Applications for the scheme must be made online, but there will be no requirement to use an Agricultural Advisor to make the applications. The closing date for submission of completed on-line applications is 19 December 2018."
All registered organic farmers are eligible to apply for the Organic Farming Scheme. Priority will be given to those areas deemed to be in deficit ie horticulture, tillage and dairy. The size of the holdings and the enterprise type in each case will determine the number of farmers accepted into the scheme.