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Food to play major part in economic recovery - Smith

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food today said that "given its importance, geographic spread and export reach, the agri-food industry clearly has a very significant role to play in Ireland's economic recovery."  The Minister said that the industry, which employs some 150,000 people, has an annual output of over €24 billion.

Minister Smith was visiting the fourth Bord Bia-organised Bloom in the Phoenix Park, where he visited a number of the exhibits and met a number of exhibitors.  Minister Smith welcomed the commitment of Bloom 2010 to "enhancing the food offering and to the introduction of a number of new food-related features that reflect the traditions, quality and diversity of Irish food production and presentation. Bloom, in its short history, has already demonstrated its hugely positive contribution to the horticultural sector."

The Minister said that "as the displays at Bloom 2010 demonstrate, we are extremely fortunate in this country to produce food of such high quality and diversity and we have some great advantages in terms of production.  Now is the time to play to those advantages and to ensure that we harness the full potential that the sector has to play and that we develop a sector that is flexible, creative and innovative and one of the most efficient across Europe. We have tremendous resources at our disposal and we must ensure that future productivity is sustainable, a theme that is central to the Sustainable Garden at Bloom 2010, showcasing Irish ornamental and fruit/vegetable crops."

The Minister concluded by saying that "the 2020 Committee, that I established in March, will, later this month, propose a strategy that will map the future direction of the sector for the next decade, a period that will be crucial for the development of a dynamic and forward-looking industry."  The Government and I look forward look forward eagerly to considering the outcome of that process, given that we are acutely conscious of the potential of the sector and, as the Taoiseach said last week, "I hope that it will include ambitious targets for growth in these sectors, securing sustainable employment over the next decade."

Date Released: 04 June 2010