There is significant potential to deepen relationships in the west Africa region, according to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, who has just concluded an agri-food trade mission to Nigeria and Senegal.

With engagements in both countries at government-to-government level, the trade mission identified opportunities to collaborate with UN agencies whom Ireland partners with in addressing food security and humanitarian needs in the region.

The visit also included a range of engagements aimed at promoting Irish agri food, seafood and beverages, in a region where demand for affordable high-quality products - which Ireland is renowned for - is increasing.

Spirits of Ireland

The Minister concluded the Nigeria leg of the trade mission by hosting an Enterprise Ireland agri-innovation event in Lagos with leading businesses in the agri-food sector and by launching the Bord Bia ‘Spirits of Ireland’ campaign in the market.

Speaking on his return to Ireland, Minister McConalogue said: "I am delighted to have visited west Africa this week, deepening the relationship with the region both politically and economically.

"There is immense potential for our dynamic agri-food sector to collaborate further with partners in the region. Such partnerships will support mutual benefits, as we share the common aim of improving the contribution of the agri-food sector to our national economies. This trade mission has strongly confirmed this significant potential.”

'Successful' mission - Bord Bia

Bord Bia CEO Jim O’Toole said that the trade mission has been very successful, spanning three cities and two countries over five days.

"Bord Bia clients met with over 300 trade targets, demonstrating the current value and significant potential of the west Africa market.

"This marks a new phase of engagement for Bord Bia's west Africa team and I look forward to the follow-up in the weeks ahead," O'Toole said.

The trade mission concluded on Friday 15 September in Senegal, where senior officials from the Department of Agriculture, together with Bord Bia and Ireland's new embassy in Dakar, engaged with Senegalese ministries of agriculture, rural development and animal husbandry and regional directors of UN agencies including the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

There were also a number of trade meetings and Bord Bia hosted a large agri-food business networking event for Irish and Senegalese companies, supported by the Irish embassy in Dakar.