The minister is joined on the visit by representatives from Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Sustainable Foods Systems Ireland and the Irish embassies in both host countries, and 15 Irish companies are also participating in the visit.
Commenting, Minister McConalogue said there are deep and historic ties between Ireland and this region. “It is a relationship that has been evolving and deepening over recent years with the growing vibrant West African community in Ireland,” he said.
“Ireland has a strong economic relationship with West Africa and I look forward to exploring the opportunities to enhance this relationship where demand for affordable high quality food and drinks is growing. Ireland’s high quality, safe sustainably produced food, seafood and beverages are well placed to meet this demand and grow the sector’s footprint in this region.”
The trade mission will include engagement between senior official government counterparts as well as key trade contacts for Irish businesses operating in the region. The minister said he is ‘looking forward to the attending the launch of an Ireland-Nigeria Trade Network in Lagos and supporting Irish companies creating new economic ties in the region’.
This trade mission will include events in both Abuja and Lagos in Nigeria and Dakar in Senegal including government to government meetings, engagement with UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and UN World Food Programme and Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland engagements with leading customers for Irish agri-food and agri-tech.
According to Bord Bia, Ireland is building a strong trading relationship with Africa which has seen the value of Irish food and drink exports reach €1.1bn in 2022, comprising dairy, drinks, meat and seafood exports. Since 2018, Irish food and drink exports to West Africa have increased from €227m to €578m in 2022.
Bord Bia CEO, Jim O’Toole, said: “Given that Nigeria and Senegal have a combined population of 229 million people, trade missions such as this provide a means to raise the profile of Irish food and drink and to provide opportunities for West African countries to increase their business with Ireland.”
Minister McConalogue added: “This week is also about enhancing our cooperation on global challenges associated with food security, climate and environmental adaption and presents opportunities for important exchanges and collaboration with stakeholders in this region.
“While the scale, economies and agro-ecologies of Ireland and countries in the region are different, I believe we share the common aim of improving the contribution of the agri-food sector to our national economies and building sustainable food systems. The engagement with Government, UN Agency and private sector stakeholders during this Trade Mission allows us to share Ireland’s experience of developing a sustainable agriculture sector, to underline Ireland’s commitment to supporting the development of sustainable food systems globally and to identify further opportunities for collaboration on these issues with stakeholders in this region.”