On the afternoon of June 28, 2023, in room 405 of the Faculty of Economics and Rural Development, a group of scholars from University College Cork, Ireland, guests of the strong research group Rural Development Management presented their research with the theme "Agriculture Ireland" and “Digital Agriculture”.
The research group consists of Dr. Noel Woods - Senior Lecturer in Economics, Director Centre for Policy Studies Agriculture in Ireland; Dr. Tracy Bradfield - Lecturer in Economics, Marion Cantillon - Teagasc Walsh Scholar, and Dr. Marie Merlot - Lecturer in Agricultural Economics from Cork University Business School.
At the beginning of the presentation, the authors introduced the Irish agricultural industry. In 2021, Ireland had 135,037 farms, 808,848 hectares of forestry and nearly 1,900 fishing vessels. The sector employed 170,400 people, or 7.1%, of the total workforce on the island. Irish farmers received close to €1.9 billion in direct and capital payments under EU and nationally funded schemes. The value of agri-food exports for 2021 is a record €15.4 billion, which is up 51% from 2012. Their largest export is dairy, which exceeded €5 billion for the third year in a row. Agri-food exports accounted for 9.5% of total merchandising exports from Ireland.
Irish agriculture is primarily a grass-based industry. The Census of Agriculture 2016 showed there were 137,500 farms compared to 139,860 farms in the 2010 Census of Agriculture. By 2021, the number of farms had declined to 135,037. The utilised agricultural area has declined marginally since the 2010 Census of Agriculture to 4,886,600 hectares. The average size of agricultural holding also decreased to 32 ha. Approximately 84% (4.09 million ha) of the agricultural area is devoted to grass (silage, hay and pasture), circa 9% (0.44 million ha) is to commonage and rough grazing and the remainder circa 9% (0.35 million ha) is allocated to cereals and other crop production. There are approximately 135,037 family farms in Ireland with an average size of 32.4 hectares per holding according to the Farm Structure Survey of 2016
Exports of Agri-Food products in 2020 were valued at €14.2 billion, a 60% increase from €8.9 billion in 2010. In 2020 Agri-Food exports represented 8.8% of Irish merchandising exports. The sector produces food and ingredients with a global reputation for quality and safety, with a livestock sector built on an enviable grass-based production system. Global demand for high-quality food is increasing with population, urbanization and affluence, and the Irish agri-food sector is well-placed to play a role in meeting this demand. In 2020 Agri-Food exports represented 8.8% of Irish merchandising exports. The sector produces food and ingredients with a global reputation for quality and safety, with a livestock sector built on an enviable grass-based production system. Global demand for high-quality food is increasing with population, urbanization and affluence, and the Irish agri-food sector is well placed to play a role in meeting this demand Develop your Agri-Food Sector around environmental sustainability: Set sustainability goals.
Ireland's agricultural industry now applies many scientific and technological advances to production such as solar power, wind power, zero tillage, biotechnology-GMO, vertical farming, irrigation monitoring, integrated pest management, and precision farming drones/digital sensors.
The research group suggested some lessons for Vietnam including (i) Developing an Agri-Food Sector that is data-driven and science-based, (ii) Being aware that Milk and Dairy sectors have the greatest contributors to GHG emissions and that poor handling of manure and fertilizers can degrade local water resources, (iii) Being aware of the sustainable benefits of organic production, (iv) Soil tillage, soil surface management to alleviate soil-related constraints to crop production, is a basic and an important input with short- and long-term effects on sustainability, and (v) Benefits of afforestation and reforestation by generating multiple socio-ecological benefits long-term approaches to climate change adaptation.
The seminar attracted not only lecturers and researchers inside and outside the Faculty of Economics and Rural Development, but also many students studying at VNUA. The presentation opened a new perspective on the Irish agricultural industry, as well as lessons for the development of Vietnam's agriculture.
Tran Thi Minh Hoa, Rural Management and Development Research Group