Teagasc is working with pig farmers to develop a joint programme as part of ambitious growth plans for the sector.
The initiative is being driven by the newly-appointed head of Teagasc’s pig development department, Ciaran Carroll. He takes over from Michael Martin who has retired after a long and successful career in Teagasc.
A native of Thurles, Co Tipperary, Mr Carroll has worked as a specialist pig development officer with Teagasc since 1993, and specialised in the areas of pig nutrition, pig reproduction, planning and IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention Control) licenses and education.
Ciaran Carroll said: “The Teagasc pig development team is working to put in place a new joint programme with the pig sector which is key to its survival. The pig sector is the third most important agricultural sector after milk and beef.
“It is facing many challenges and investing in research, knowledge transfer and training will ensure that a vibrant sector is maintained in the years to come. The joint programme will provide a strong research, advisory and training service for the pig producers in the country.”
Irish pig meat exports have been growing steadily, enjoying something of a recovery following the damage caused by Europe’s dioxin scare in 2008. Teagasc’s advisors have been playing a key role in helping Irish pig producers engineer a path back to profitability.
The last outlook projections for 2012 issued by the CSO suggested that the output from the pig sector would rise by 19.6%, or €64m, this year. This projection is consistent with Teagasc’s Outlook 2012 projections of January, when it predicted that the agri-business would stay flat this year, with the exception of pigs, which should see a sizeable uplift this year.
Head of knowledge transfer in Teagasc, Dr Tom Kelly, said: “The target to increase the output of the pig sector, as set out in Food Harvest 2020, will require improved sow productivity and increased herd size. Teagasc will be benchmarking herd performance and providing a strong knowledge transfer programme, led by Ciaran for the Irish pig sector.”
Teagasc said that, as pig prices rise and the cost of feed decreases, profitability would be restored to the pig sector in 2012. These projections have been well received by the Irish pig meat sector, which is estimated to be worth up to €350m to the Irish economy annually.
Mr Carroll will be based at the Teagasc Animal and Grassland, Research & Innovation Centre, Moore- park, Fermoy, Co Cork.
Mr Carroll holds a degree in agricultural science and a Masters in animal science from University College Dublin. As a specialist in the Teagasc pig development department, he has been responsible for transferring technical information to pig producers and the pig industry and developing close links with the sector. He has also developed strong international links with North Carolina State University, University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Alberta Pork, and in organisations in Australia, the Netherlands and Denmark.
In 2010, Ireland exported 134,000 tonnes (product weight) of pig products, worth approximately €317m. Of this 63,000 tonnes were exported to Britain.
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