Call for new organic producers in Northern Ireland

Date Published: 29/09/2005

Farmers in Northern Ireland are being encouraged to convert to organics to take advantage of the growing market for organic food.

OAPGNI Chairman, Christopher Stopes
OAPGNI Chairman, Christopher Stopes

The call has come from the Organic Action Plan Group for Northern Ireland (OAPGNI).

The group, of which OF&G Business Manager Richard Jacobs is a member, said there was increased processing capacity in the region as well as rising consumer demand.

OAPGNI Chairman, Christopher Stopes, also highlighted the environmental benefits to be found in organic systems.

He said: “Organic farming is known for its low environmental impact, through restrictions or prohibitions upon the use of artificial pesticides and fertilisers. It leads to significantly reduced Nitrogen and Phosphorous outputs, which enables farmers to comply more readily with the Nitrates Directive.

“Furthermore, it is no longer the case that additional conversions will erode the price premium for organic, due to increasing demand.”

Rex Humphrey, vice-chair of OAPGNI, added: “The group is convinced that the local organic sector could accommodate a steady increase of five to 10 average-sized herds each year without the price premium being eroded.

“With such increased production, we could see the local demand for organic produce being met with local produce rather than having to rely on imports, providing the opportunity to develop export markets.”

Courses are to be run by Greenmount Campus’ organic advisory team for anyone interested in converting. These will be held in each county in early October, and will be publicised in the local and farming press.