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Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett has published the final report for the Maximising Organic Production Systems (MOPS) EIP project.

In publishing the report, which showed how through the project, eleven (11) certified organic vegetable and fruit producers had increased the supply of Irish-grown organic horticultural fresh produce through working together over the duration of the four-year project, the Minister said: “Working together has to be the way forward for the Organic sector and I am delighted to see how well co-operation delivered for these growers over the period of this MOPS EIP project. It has been a fantastic success, with growers, researchers, agronomists and industry representatives working together to provide a huge insight into the path forward for organic producers. This is a sector for which I am very ambitious and for which I intend to deliver, so I fully intend to build on these insights and come up with mechanisms to further support organic growers”.

The report outlines the main headline results for the project, in terms of organic horticulture production, market research, green manure field trials, dissemination and knowledge sharing, which includes:

  • Since 2015 sales of organic vegetables have increased by 20% year on year;
  • Sales increased by 112% from €3.8 to €8.2m between 2017 and 2020 for the 11 MOPS EIP Project growers;
  • The total cropping area for organic vegetables increased by 40% among the MOPS growers during the three years of the MOPS EIP Project;
  • The MOPS growers worked together and increased sales among the group by 62% to increase supply to retailers;
  • Irish retailers are keen to support the organic horticulture industry and the most popular Irish organic crops sold in the Irish multiple retailers are onions, potatoes and carrots;
  • A trail on green manures on one of the project farms found that short term green manures can readily and profitably be incorporated into Irish organic vegetable production;
  • A Growers report and technical on-farm videos were produced so that growing techniques may be replicated by other growers.

Reflecting further on those findings the Minister concluded: “I would like to thank the 11 organic producers, all the Operational Group members and the Project Team members for participating in the project. The MOPS Project shows how growers can adapt to market demand and increase the supply of Irish organic vegetables and fruit. This is really vital evidence given our ambition for the sector. Funding for it has grown every year since I took office and with a five-fold increase secured in the next CAP, I think all growers can be confident they will be supported to replicate this success, as we increase our area under organic production in Ireland, in line with the Programme for Government.”