On-farm education plays a vital role in supporting Irish agri-food’s successes in export markets and in sustaining rural life in Ireland, according to Fr Harry Bohan.
A prominent social commentator, Fr Bohan was guest speaker at the launch of the newly refurbished Teagasc office in Ennis, Co Clare. He is director of pastoral planning in the diocese of Killaloe and parish priest in Sixmilebridge, Co Clare.
“The family farm and community are at the very core of rural life in Co Clare,” said Fr Bohan. “In recent years, there has been a recovery of our deep connection with the land. The need to balance global and local is paramount. We must balance large scale agribusiness with small producers. Sustainability is the new buzzword.”
Fr Bohan praised Teagasc’s advisory service in Co Clare for their sterling work, adding that, with the newly refurbished facility, Teagasc has renewed its commitment to farming and rural development.
Teagasc director Gerry Boyle also stressed the importance of education in a dynamic agriculture and food sector.
“Instructors in agriculture were a better title to describe the work of professionals working in the advisory service as education is central to our work,” said Prof Boyle. “Today, education is vital. Farmers should have a level of education equivalent to all other professions.”
Prof Boyle said farming and food are central to the recovery of the Irish economy, and this reflects what has happened in New Zealand in the past two decades, where agriculture, food, and tourism have emerged as the big sectors in the economy.
Teagasc has reduced its number of offices from 91 to 51 over the last three years.
“Against a background of cutbacks, the completion of this refurbished facility is good news and indicates the firm commitment of Teagasc to the advisory service and farmers in Co Clare,” said Teagasc regional advisory manager Brendan Heneghan.
“Today, farming continues to be vital in the economy of Co Clare.”
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