The Irish countryside is now a land of promise for Ireland’s future as a major agri-food exporter.
The country has the potential to produce up to 1.2 million tonnes of food per year, or 10 times the amount of wheat it currently imports.
It has the largest number of hectares of fertile land in Europe and is the largest producer of cereals, fruits and vegetables in the world.
It is also the most expensive country to grow food in.
In 2015, it cost more than €1.3 billion to produce the equivalent of 2.4 million tonnes.
The price tag has gone up by an average of €2,000 per hectare since 2012.
In addition, the cost of fertilisers, pesticides and chemicals has increased by up to 40 per cent since 2012, according to the latest figures from the International Food Policy Research Institute.
The average farm-to-market price per kilogram of food produced in 2016 was €1,632, according the latest IFS report, which is higher than the average of around €1k per hectale.
In 2016, farmers in Ireland imported over a million tonnes worth of wheat.
This is up from about 1.3 million tonnes in 2016.
The country now produces more than double the amount it imports, or 3.7 million tonnes, per year.
Its production is expected to grow at a steady pace in the coming years, with a target of more than 5 million tonnes a year.
It also has the ability to import more food.
The IFS forecasts that the country will import more than 100 million tonnes this year, up from an estimated 50 million tonnes last year.
In the meantime, the country is in a delicate position.
Its farmers are reliant on foreign markets for the bulk of their food.
But as the price of food rises, farmers may have to take the hit in order to pay for more fertilisers and pesticides.
What will the impact be?
Agriculture has always been the lifeblood of Irish society.
The value of agricultural exports has been rising steadily since the mid-1990s, but this has accelerated in the past decade.
The IFS project estimates that the increase in imports will add around €10 billion to the cost to the country of farming.
It has also led to more intensive farming in areas that are already heavily reliant on agriculture.
The amount of agricultural land in Ireland has increased from 6.5 per cent in 1997 to 8.6 per cent by 2020.
Agricultural productivity is at a record high, and the increase has made agriculture more attractive to multinational companies.
In 2016, exports to the US grew by €100 million, and to China it grew by a whopping €500 million.
In 2019, Ireland exported €3.5 billion worth of agricultural products to China, the world’s second largest agricultural market.
The next year, the value of Irish exports to China surpassed $11.7 billion.
In 2020, Ireland exports €6.4 billion worth to Brazil, the third-largest exporter after the US and the UK.