The agri-food sector is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry employing 8.4% of the working population and contributing enormously to the viability of Ireland’s rural and coastal communities. The agri-food sector is export-orientated with agri-food exports from Ireland exceeding €13 billion in 2017. Growth in the global population and changing diets in emerging countries are projected to bring about a 70 per cent increase in global demand for food over the next 40 years. In terms of food production advanced ICT is being developed and implemented at every stage of the food chain, from the primary producer on-farm, through to the processor and retailer.
The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine’s ‘Food Wise 2025” strategy aims to position Ireland as a world leader in sustainable agri-food production. Ireland scores strongly when it comes to food safety, quality ingredients, natural environment, and a heritage of food production through a family farm culture.
Agriculture is a key industry in Co. Tipperary, supporting a significant number of jobs both directly in food and drink production and also in the wider agri-industry. Developing capabilities and use of best practices and technologies at farm level is critical to increasing employment, income, and profitability. This theme was explored at an AgTech Symposium held in Co. Tipperary in 2017,which was led by Tipperary Local Enterprise Office in partnership with Local Enterprise Offices in the South East Region, Enterprise Ireland, Teagasc, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Waterford and Limerick Institutes of Technology, and the Irish Farmers Journal. Experts and practitioners in policy, research, business, agriculture, farming and technology presented at the event.
The symposium investigated the future developments, opportunities and strengths of AgTech in Ireland. It also looked at how technologies from other sectors can be transferred and applied to agricultural processes, what it means to get early stage funding for a start-up, and the real impact of AgTech on the farm and how tech contributes to competitiveness, profitability and opportunities for market diversification. Particular focus was given to the potential of the bioeconomy, engineering, and automation including smart farming and sensors.