Home-grown grains need 'aggressive' marketing

Teagasc director Gerry Boyle
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Irish home-grown grain must be marketed in a more "aggressive" fashion than in the past with the tillage sector facing major difficulties, it has been warned.

Teagasc director Professor Gerry Boyle said the country's dedicated cereal and tillage producers have remained resilient in the face of a fall-off in income in recent years.

Prof Boyle told the Teagasc National Tillage Conference last week he was "very conscious of the need to add value to Irish grain and make it a premium product" that would secure a higher price.

There is a case for "marketing quality Irish grain in a much more aggressive way than it has been in the past," he added.

With the country's distilling industry buoyant, he told hundreds of farmers gathered in Kilkenny that there must be an opportunity for targeting Irish barley at the distilling sector.

Prof Boyle said they were also looking at the value of Irish oats and barley in "higher value premium" baked products to respond to the rapidly changing market with an increasing emphasis on healthy and nutritional foods.

Prof Boyle also pointed out the growing consumer interest in products free from genetically-modified crops that could also create an opportunity for Irish cereal growers.

With the annual cereal area falling by 10,000ha last year to 270,000ha, Minister of State Andrew Doyle said he was aware there was strong interest from grain growers in the protein subsidy and it was "keenly availed of". He confirmed it will continue in some form in 2018.

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