After 18 months gradually acclimatizing myself to the Irish agricultural and food industries I decided it was time to prepare a website that was rather more dedicated to Irish agriculture, food and rural issues. It is also, after all, where my family and I have chosen to make our home.
Whilst I plan to maintain my Agrifood Solutions blog, I decided I needed a different identity because, in Ireland, the term ‘agri-food’ has become synonymous with the agro-industrial complex that processes farm-produced raw materials into ‘premiumized’ commodities for sale onto global markets. Whilst I accept that it has a major role to play in Ireland, I consider that it has become far too dominant. It not only dominates the farm-produce trading environment but it has also come to dominate the establishment of agricultural policy in Ireland.
A subject of forthcoming posting to my blog will be the need to specifically focus on developing a genuine, recognized-by-the-global-foods-consumer-as-such, premium foods sector in Ireland. And not one that is responsible for processing and selling a couple of percentage points of total farm produce but one that handles a fifth or more. One that provides a real alternative sales outlet for farmers. It will be about creating products and routes to market that can deliver far better returns to the traditional, small-scale Irish farmer. It will be about adding value to farm products either on-farm or within the local community. It will be about developing smaller-scale, rural-based food-businesses. It will be about the importance of businesses to the future well-being of rural Ireland. Hence, my choice of Irish Rural Business Solutions.
The new website address is www.irbs.guru. The dot-guru is rather tongue-in-cheek humour and I admit I could have used something like dot-biz but that would have been far too conventional. It also reminds me of the fact that I was taught and worked alongside a handful of people who were and still are considered gurus in the farming and food world. I would like to think something rubbed off! They certainly left me with a strong technical background in farming agricultural business management and economics and, somewhere along the line, they taught me to write. And after a lifetime in farming and food that goes back to before I could walk, maybe I have learnt sufficient along the way to justify the use of the dot-guru suffix!