Keogh’s to help develop potato farming in Ethiopia

ByRay Ryan

The award-winning Keogh’s Farm in north Co Dublin has committed to a three-year partnership with Vita, which will see it become the first Irish food business to go carbon neutral.

Developing a sustainable potato cultivation programme for Ethiopian farmers is the aim of the partnership.

Tom Keogh of Keogh’s Farm crisps, meeting with potato growers in Chencha in southern Ethiopia.

Vita is the only Irish not-for-profit overseas development agency to deliver a platform for Irish companies to offset their carbon footprint via their high impact climate-mitigating programmes in Africa.

The Keogh family, one of Ireland’s leading crisp makers, has been producing potatoes for over two centuries. 

Their farm was awarded carbon neutral status in May, which means their emissions are tracked from the field to the crisping house. It is also a member of Bord Bia’s Origin Green sustainability programme.

Vita has been working for many years supporting Ethiopian families and communities in building sustainable livelihoods. 

It partners with Teagasc and members of the Irish Potato Federation, who have shared their wealth of expertise in science, farming, and business practice.

Keogh Crisps founder and managing director Tom Keogh said he travelled to Chencha in southern Ethiopia last year to see the impact of Vita on the ground, as well as to help address any issues relating to potato cultivation and market development for the region.

I quickly realised that there was a great opportunity here for the Keogh Farm and business to make a real difference on many levels. We then partnered with Vita to write a three-year development plan that underpins our commitment to the region.

“Originally our work with Vita was to be purely about knowledge transfer, helping to empower communities to produce better crops, avoid hunger, and become self-sustainable. 

"However, Vita’s carbon reduction programme has enabled our family business to offset our carbon emissions while bettering the lives of many Ethiopian families at the same time.

“For us at Keogh’s this is an ongoing partnership where generations to come will benefit from a cleaner environment both at home and abroad,” he said.

Vita chief John Weakliam said the programme is “a win-win” for Irish businesses like Keogh’s which are looking to make a positive impact on the environment and on people’s lives.

“By supporting Vita’s carbon programme, Irish businesses can enable rural Africans to create sustainable livelihoods free from aid while reducing carbon emissions in a very efficient and cost-effective way,” he said.

Over the last 30 years, Vita programmes have transformed the lives of more than one million farming households.

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