The agricultural model that made Ireland the safest food country



They say that the family is not just the most important thing; it's all good, because it lasts forever.

This principle is manifested in the Irish agricultural sector, where agriculture is a family affair, and agribusiness operates in families.

Family agribusinesses manage the nose in a five million people (and in some parts of Europe), perhaps one of the reasons that Ireland is the safest country in the world.

According to the Irish Food Council, the country produces food for 50 million people, which is ten times more than necessary.

Most of the entrepreneurs who currently manage the multimillion-dollar family agglomerations of shillings are the third and fourth generations. For some, their grandfathers were producers of several cultures, then their fathers specialized in one and the current managers, adding value to the product or taking enterprises on an international level.

In Keelings Group, a fruit company located in the Northern County of Dublin, the capital of Ireland's agriculture, Caroline Keeling is the CEO of the firm started by her grandfather.

"We are the largest producers of strawberries and raspberries in Ireland. We have been working since the 30s. We grow strawberries in greenhouses, collect and collect for retail stores. About 90 percent of our market is local, and the rest we sell in the countries of the European Union, "says Caroline, who runs the business with her two brothers.

The family agribusiness, which began to sell fruit on the Dublin market, went on to buy from producers, both locally and globally.

"We are present in the UK, France, Singapore, Holland and China and we are buying products from 42 countries, including from Africa."

Caroline, who studied chemistry and later mastered magic in the field of food science, mastered the art of growing strawberries.

"We grow fruit in peat to extend the harvest season. If you grow on the soil, you will be lucky to have two seasons. To grow plants, we make a hole, place a bare root plant so that the crown is at the level of peat. Plants mature within two to three months, "Caroline says, noting her greenhouses where they grow fruit for 10 acres.

Watermelons from Kenya

Keilings Group expressed interest in buying watermelons from Kenya after meeting with the business delegation from the country during the trip, supported by the Embassy of Ireland in Nairobi.

Crisps Keoga, also located in the Northern County of Dublin, is another huge family agribusiness, dating back to 1832.

The brothers Keoga, Tom and Ross, manage the agribusiness started by their grandfather. Ross is the director of the company, and his brother Tom is the managing director.

"Our grandfathers started with the production of various crops and sold them in the markets of Dublin. In the 1960s, the firm built greenhouses and became known for the cultivation and production of tomatoes, "says Ross.

His father diversified before the cultivation of cauliflower, sprouts, broccoli and potatoes, when he modernized the company, having built the first refrigerated store in Ireland in 1975, which enabled them to supply products year-round.

"After reviewing the markets and determining our strength, we narrowed down to producing potatoes and adding value in 2011, renaming the company from Peter Keogh's and Sons to Crisps Keoga," says Ross

Currently, the company makes chips for the niche market, including Emirates Airlines.

"Potatoes are washed, sorted and cut without peeling before they are fried at 1500 ° C, seasoned and packaged for the market. We export to 14 markets around the world, "says Ross.

Hoy's family agricultural heritage dates back to the 1850s, and they manage County County, also located in Northern Dublin.

Michael and Gabriel Hoy, family members of the fourth generation, manage agribusiness, which specializes in growing and packaging fresh potatoes for retail chains.

"We grow potatoes on more than 3,000 hectares and control another 4,000 acres of crops for other farmers. We also import and supply various agricultural products, including onions, which we pack and sell to retail chains, including Tesco and Supervalu, "says commercial director Tony Doyle.

The company delivers products to supermarkets in brand names of retail chains.

"Of the several products that we sell, there is only one in our brand – a strategy that works for us," Doyle says.

Unique Features

In Rafoe, Donegal, Ireland's countryside, John Rankin, a potato producer, stands on the edge of his farm and looks farther down where the plant extends over 300 acres and blurts out: "I'm not a good farmer right now. My son, but he is on vacation. I wish you could talk to him, because he learned a lot about the production of potatoes.

Jamie is a farmer of the third generation, his grandfather founded a farm and gave it to his son, Rankin's father.

Now Jamie is in the process of transferring it to his son aged. The family has been growing potatoes since 1890, growing a species of cocks, the most popular and high-yielding type in the country.

"We grow crops on six-year rotations in different parts of the farm to curb disease and improve the quality of the soil. I rotate potatoes with wheat, barley or grass for dairy cattle and cattle, "suggests Jamie, who seeks to transfer the farm to his son.

He collects products and materials for processors such as Crisps and Crash, and potatoes that enter the retail market.

The Irish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Marine Sciences notes that the average size of farms in the country is 33 hectares, most of them belonging to families. A total of 137,500 farms are located on 4.46 million hectares.

Lisa Doherty, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Ireland, Nairobi, says that the legacy of Irish agriculture has the most important elements of sustainability in agriculture, which include established social support networks, cultural traditions and localized human-ecological knowledge.

"Family farmers have unique opportunities and problems that arise from an important differentiating factor – the involvement of the family. They tend to think on a long-term basis for a variety of reasons, and the desire to be multiplayer is important. "

"Heritage is a huge force of Irish family companies, and family affiliation is used to communicate with consumers," she adds.

According to Lisa, family farms in Ireland, similar to Kenya, are the basis of rural communities and are a major factor in the success in the production and export of agriculture.

Culture of agriculture as a family

"The older generations have invaluable experience in farming and local know-how, while young generations are technically savvy and have strong marketing instincts. This combination of experience and skills has helped companies such as Keelings, Keogh's and Country Crest to become very successful in this more globalized era. "

Kimani Rugendo, owner of Kevian Industries, the creators of fruit juice Pick N Peel, says that the family economy is the best model for ensuring food security.

"In Ireland, this model has ensured the security of the country, because the farm is passed down from generation to generation," he proposes.

With the model, the question of the land division or the struggle for wealth among children that is prevalent in Kenya does not arise.

"Here, a man must share his land among his five or ten sons and daughters. If he had 10 acres, the unit makes sustainable agriculture uneconomical because of small plots. This is one of the reasons why Kenya is struggling to produce products. "

However, Rugendo admits that the culture of farming as a family must be fed through generations so that children can be ready to take responsibility.

"It is time we teach our children how to farm, as a family, if we need to be safe. This also holds back the cases of the division of the land and allows them to coexist as far as their farm. Instead of sharing the land, why can not they share the money coming from it? "He says.

However, the drawback of the model in Ireland and other parts of Europe is that if the father or grandfather was not a farmer, then because of the high cost of land, one can not become a farmer.

Some farmers also face problems as their children abandon them.

Michael Oriedo, writes for the Daily Nation of Kenya


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