Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is leading an agri-food trade mission to west Africa this week.
The Minister will depart Ireland to visit Nigeria and Senegal as part of Ireland’s efforts to develop political and economic relationships in the region.
He will be supported by Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Sustainable Foods Systems Ireland and the Irish embassies in both host countries. Fifteen Irish companies are also travelling to promote their produce for export.
Minister McConalogue said that there are “deep and historic ties” between Ireland and the west African region.
“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.
“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,” he said.
The trade mission will include engagement between senior official Government counterparts, as well as key trade contacts for Irish businesses operating in the region.
“I am particularly looking forward to attending the launch of an Ireland-Nigeria trade network in Lagos this week and supporting Irish companies creating new economic ties in the region,” the Minister added.
This trade mission will also include events in both Abuja and Lagos in Nigeria and Dakar in Senegal, including government-to-government meetings, engagement with UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and UN World Food Programme and Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland engagements with leading customers for Irish agri food and agri tech.
“This week is also about enhancing our co-operation on global challenges associated with food security, climate and environmental adaption and presents opportunities for important exchanges and collaboration with stakeholders in this region.
“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 said.
Bord Bia CEO Jim O’Toole described how the value of Irish food and drink exports to Africa reached €1.1bn in 2022, comprising dairy, drinks, meat and seafood exports.
Irish food and drink exports to west Africa alone have increased from €227m in 2018 to €578m in 2022.
“Given that Nigeria and Senegal have a combined population of 229m 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,” he said.