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Agriculture in Inishowen
Agriculture and food is one of the most important industries in this country.
Farmers make up 6.9% of the workforce. When employment in inputs, processing and marketing is included, the agri-food sector accounts for 11% of people at work in Ireland. This sector accounts for 10.5% of GDP and its make up 8.5% share of exports. The economic fabric of rural areas centers on this industry.
Raising its competitiveness would help maintain and generate job opportunities in the agriculture supply service including machinery, agric-chemicals, finance consultancy, publications and building and Farm Diversification
Although agriculture is not as important to rural areas today as it was in the past, the sheer number still involved in farming means that the primary objective of any rural development initiative should be to retain as many farm households as possible within countryside areas. It is still farmers and their families who are largely responsible for keeping rural schools, shops, sports and social clubs going. The need to maintain a “critical mass” of people in a locality to sustain a vibrant rural community, which will also help solve the growing social /urban problem.
The plight of the farmer in the Northwest becomes apparent when you consider their relative farm size. This becomes even more apparent in Inishowen where the land type in general does not lend itself to intensive farming.
Faced with realities such as changing consumer demand and falling output prices, the full-time farmer is coming under increasing pressure to improve the viability of his/her holding by looking at two main avenues:
(i) to improve the quality of the product
(ii) to improve the levels of training and education so as to maximise the benefit that any new technologies can be to that family farm.
Family farms, which are part of the fabric of Irish agriculture, are under serious threat over the coming years Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP) with an emphasis on rural people and farming methods, see training and education are crucial if change is to be brought about. This would secure the long-term viability of many family farm families in the area and also serve as a workable model for regenerating the rural economy. These projects could be adopted by policy makers both in Ireland and the EU who are striving to combat the effects of rural decline.