IRELAND’S Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue is leading an agri and economic trade mission to West Africa this week.
The TD, who is for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, will be joined by representatives of 15 Irish companies on the trip to Nigeria and Senegal, which is hoped will “enhance political and economic relationships” between Ireland and Africa.
Representatives from Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Sustainable Foods Systems Ireland and the Irish Embassies in both host countries will also take part in the event, which kicks off today.
"I am delighted to be leading this trade mission to West Africa,” Minister McConalogue said.
“There are deep and historic ties between Ireland and this region, a relationship which has been evolving and deepening over recent years with the growing vibrant West African community in Ireland.
“Ireland has a strong economic relationship with West Africa and I look forward to exploring the opportunities to enhance this relationship where demand for affordable high quality food and drinks is growing,” he added.
“Ireland’s high quality, safe sustainably produced food, seafood and beverages are well placed to meet this demand and grow the sector’s footprint in this region.”
The trade mission will include engagement between senior official government counterparts as well as key trade contacts for Irish businesses operating in the region.
The Minister will also attend the launch of an Ireland-Nigeria Trade network in Lagos this week.
Events will also take place in Abuja in Nigeria and in Dakar, Senegal this week.
“This week is also about enhancing our cooperation on global challenges associated with food security, climate and environmental adaption and presents opportunities for important exchanges and collaboration with stakeholders in this region,” Mr McConalogue explained.
“While the scale, economies and agro-ecologies of Ireland and countries in the region are different, I believe we share the common aim of improving the contribution of the agri food sector to our national economies and building sustainable food systems.”
He added: “The engagement with Government, UN Agency and private sector stakeholders during this Trade Mission allows us to share Ireland’s experience of developing a sustainable agriculture sector, to underline Ireland’s commitment to supporting the development of sustainable food systems globally and to identify further opportunities for collaboration on these issues with stakeholders in this region.”
Bord Bia CEO, Jim O’Toole outlined the “strong” trading relationship that Ireland is building with Africa, which saw food and drink exports to the region reach €1.1 billion last year.
“Ireland is building a strong trading relationship with Africa which has seen the value of Irish food and drink exports reach €1.1 billion in 2022, comprising dairy, drinks, meat and seafood exports,” he said.
“Since 2018, Irish food and drink exports to West Africa have increased from €227 million to €578 million in 2022.
“Given that Nigeria and Senegal have a combined population of 229 million people, trade missions such as this provide a means to raise the profile of Irish food and drink and to provide opportunities for West African countries to increase their business with Ireland.”