Board Members: DARD

The agri-food sector plays a significant role in the Northern Ireland economy. The sector contributes £1bn per annum of value added and has demonstrated a strong track record of export growth. 70% of all sales from the food and drinks processing industry are outside NI.

Global prospects for food production have changed dramatically and positively over the past three or four years and the agri-food sector has the potential to respond to the additional demand that is evident. In this context, the sector was recognised in the 2012 NI Economic Strategy 
as one with great potential for growth.  It has also been identified as a key sector where NI has world class capabilities within the Draft Industrial Strategy for Northern Ireland issued for consultation in January 2017.

To capitalise on these opportunities, the NI Executive committed to the development of a strategic plan for the sector in the 2011-2015 Programme for Government

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and Invest NI worked closely  to establish an Agri-Food Strategy Board (AFSB) to develop this Strategic Plan.

Tony O’Neill was appointed as Chair of the AFSB on in February 2012. In May 2012, the
members were appointed, with the majority coming from the industry itself, as well as some senior Government officials. The Board has met regularly since it was established and it has also engaged extensively with a wide range of stakeholders.

The Board established nine sectoral sub-groups, each chaired by a Board member to consider specific challenges, opportunities and priorities for each of our key sub-sectors. These sub-groups comprised over 80 stakeholders drawn from industry and related government departments/agencies and their reports have been considered by the main Board.

In parallel to this, the Board engaged with the wider stakeholder base through a public Call for Evidence and received almost 40 responses from a range of interests, including farming, food, forestry, environmental, academic and public body representatives.