Our Role in Context
Agricultural Development Post 2016
Agricultural development is central to the realisation of Ireland’s development objectives and globally, the realisation of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals – the new global development framework adopted by the UN in September 2015. Agricultural development has the power to substanially reduce global poverty and under-nutrition while transforming the lives of many millions of people who rely on agriculture for their food and incomes.
While globally agricultural productivity continues to rise, there is still a significant gap in reaching optimum potential yields in many developing countries, and in parts of Africa yields have even declined. Rio+20, in framing the challenges for agriculture, emphasized the need to reinvigorate a diversity of farming systems through support to farmers – with emphasis on women’s empowerment and gender equality – and increased investments in research, technology, market infrastructure, extension and knowledge sharing. This will catalyse innovation and empower farmers.
Ireland itself has undergone significant changes in its agriculture sector over the past fifty years, driven by research and technology-driven innovation. Farming is still crucial to Ireland’s economy and agri-food remains the most important indigenous sector, providing primary employment for 170,000 people. Challenges remain, which are as relevant to Ireland as they are to many other countries, with emphasis on climate change, rising energy costs, food insecurity and rural decline. Such challenges call for increased investments in agriculture in order to ensure it is more resource efficient and to balance different resource uses with the need to preserve the integrity of ecosystems. This thinking has informed both Ireland’s domestic agriculture sector development and its overseas development programming, in an on-going effort to achieve a balance between the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development – central to the Irish Government’s Policy for International Development.
In this light, the interface between research, policy and practice becomes increasingly demanding, with a call for greater scientific/policy dialogue and multisectoral engagement in the area of agriculture for development – covering a spectrum ranging from agricultural production to value chain and market system development. It is within this framework that the Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development was established.