As Irish exports experience further growth in Nigeria with dairy, seafood and beverage products being the main export categories, the Irish government organisation responsible for development and growth of its enterprises across the globe, Enterprise Ireland, has fostered collaboration, between the country and Nigeria to drive food system innovation in a bid to address food shortage.
In this groundbreaking collaboration, Nigeria is set to harness innovative approaches in agrifood to address its mounting food deficit, taking inspiration from the well-established food system model of Ireland. During an agri-tech event, organised by the Enterprise Ireland in Lagos recently, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who led the trade mission, Charlie McConalogue said both countries would continue to share ideas and intertwine their strengths to ensure food security globally. “We have transformed our farming systems using innovative high tech solutions over the years and this speaks volumes about our commitment to innovation”, he said.
“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. Since 2018, Irish food and drink exports to West Africa have increased from €227 million to €578 million in 2022”, he continued. The Ambassador of Ireland to Nigeria, Peter Ryan, has also confirmed that Ireland’s success in its agriculture has been the connection, between the public sector and private sector innovation. “As a top 10 nation for innovation in the European Union and top 15 globally, Ireland is known as a hub where food knowledge meets modern science and innovation and the beneficiary is our food sector,” he said.
He noted that Ireland’s agricultural voyage of innovations is driven by efforts of industry leaders. “These companies are scripting the next chapter of agricultural histories, pioneering advanced techniques in artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things and robotics, and addressing some of the industry’s toughest challenges”. The Director of Sub-Saharan Africa at Enterprise Ireland, Nicola Kelly, while underscoring the profound and deepening connection between Ireland and Nigeria informed that, “Ireland has a strong economic relationship with Nigeria and as the trade and innovation agency, Enterprise Ireland supports Irish companies to create new economic ties across Sub-Saharan Africa”. According to her, Irish businesses are well poised to assist Nigeria with the technologies, resources, and farming knowledge they need to succeed in developing its agriculture sector. Through Irish Agri-tech solutions, Nigeria can leapfrog legacy challenges and make significant strides towards gaining the food security it desires,” she said. “Access to Irish farming equipment will help the Nigerian Agriculture industry currently struggling with importing equipment, supply chain time delays, and costly repairs”, adding that Irish agricultural intellectual capital could assist Nigerian farmers in streamlining farming processes and adopting modern approaches to farming that the Enterprise Ireland is a bridge to. Nigeria is the largest market for Irish agrifood goods in Africa with exports worth €208 million in 2022, increasing by 14 per cent over 2021.