Fund launched to grow Irish potatoes in Africa

 

Irish agribusiness are being offered financial and political support to set up in Africa.

Launching a new €5 million aid programme to grow Irish potatoes in Gamo Gofa in Southern Ethiopia, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the Government would support Irish companies operating from there.

Outlining aid to Irish companies under the Agrifood Development Fund, Mr Coveney said Ireland was exporting not just food but also knowledge to the developing world.

The Agrifood Development Fund represents assistance both financial and political for Irish companies which are willing to locate a “significant” presence in either Tanzania or Kenya initially, Mr Coveney said.

The fund is run in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Mr Coveney said he had no doubt it would be expanded to Ethiopia and potentially to other African countries.

He said the initiative met a moral obligation but would also build Ireland’s reputation as a world supplier of first-class food. “High-quality, sustainable, safe food” was in everybody’s interest he said.

The initiative to increase the supply of Irish potatoes in southern Ethiopia involves local farmers taking out “a loan” of a bag of seed potatoes, which can be returned the next year alongside a donation of another bag, providing yet more farmers with seed for years to come. The scheme was developed by Teagasc, the Irish Potato Federation and Vita.