Farm Diversification

A farm survey carried out by DEFRA discovered that 50% of farms in England had diversified activity in 2009/10 and the total income from diversification was £360 million.
A similar survey carried out in Northern Ireland indicated that 10% of farms in NI had diversified.

A survey carried out by Teagasc among 500 Irish farmers in 2010 indicated that 2% would be interested in diversification.

How could a “great farm diversification leap forward” be achieved in Ireland? 


What have we got in the Republic?

There are 17,000 Irish farms which have ceased production.

There are 60,000 experienced graduates and professionals unemployed.

There are public funds available for training such graduates.

Export markets for Irish food products are expanding rapidly.


We believe that there are at least 1,000 of those graduates/professionals who already have the foundation skills which would enable them to become professional “Farm Diversification Consultants” if they were appropriately trained and supervised. When qualified, those Consultants would work on a profit sharing basis, with farmers and landowners, identifying markets and developing viable business enterprises and thereby creating jobs for themselves, plus additional on-farm employment.


Farm Diversification Ireland (FDI) has designed a programme entitled the “Farm Diversification and Innovation Programme” (FDIP) which would achieve this objective. This programme is outlined below under the following questions:


Why consider farm diversification?

What is the immediate challenge?

What is the missing link?

Why is there a shortage of Project Proposals?

What is the answer?

What are the next steps?

What are the potential outputs?


The programme would be eligible and suitable for State funding from sources such as Leader or Springboard. is ready to discuss implementation with interested private institutions and State bodies.


For further information, please contact:



Why consider farm diversification?

Land is one of Ireland’s greatest national assets. The country is not densely populated, so there are ample opportunities waiting to be exploited. The variety and quality of land type ranging from rugged mountains, to rich grassland, peat lands, marsh, woodlands, rivers and a vast coastline, each providing an opportunity for its own specific diversity.

Add to that a temperate climate, ample supply of fresh water, steady wind speeds.

There is a growing international demand for quality processed food products, which Ireland has proved it is capable of producing and selling abroad.

There is an ample supply of project financing available, provided viable projects are identified and professionally presented for funding.

Other countries are generating hundreds of millions of euro through farm diversification.

Ireland’s second greatest national asset is its people, highly educated, experienced and willing to work diligently.  Over 60,000 experienced, professional people available on the live register, many of them are waiting to be guided towards available business opportunities in diversified farming.


What is the immediate Challenge?    


How to bring Irelands two greatest national assets – land and available, qualified people – together in order to identify and convert dormant farm diversification opportunities.  




What is the missing link?


The missing link is a pipeline of good project proposals, presented to funding sources, with well researched markets, supported by a professional team to implement the proposals.


Why is there a shortage of Project Proposals?


The following is some of deficiencies that exist at farm level:


Lack of time, because farmers are busy people, working on core products. Identifying new business opportunities and writing business plans is not a spare time activity.


Lack of business management skills, which are required to identify and write good quality  proposals,


Lack of experience at dealing with the professional “bureaucratic mind” within the public service and among professional bank staff


Lack of appreciation of need to be professional and systematic in presenting proposals


Lack of knowledge of funding sources and different funding options




What is the answer?


Bring in the professionals! There are over 60,000 professionals on the live unemployment register, many of whom are qualified up to Masters and even Doctorate level. Some of them would dearly relish the opportunity to get involved in the process of identifying farm diversification opportunities and thereby create income and employment for both themselves and the landowner.

It is safe to assume that there are at least 1,000 of those professionals who would be capable of identifying, proposing and implementing good business projects if they were trained to do so.

In doing so, they would create jobs for themselves and for the people working in their successful projects.




What are the next steps?


FDI recommends the following approach:


- Select a group of unemployed, experienced professionals/graduates

- Introduce them to the skills of the Project Cycle – Project Identification, Project Appraisal, Project Proposal, Project Planning, Project Implementation and Project Evaluation.

- Familiarise them with planning legislation and other legal requirements associated with farm diversification

- Brief them on all appropriate project financing sources and financing models

- Brief them on sources of ideas for farm diversification projects

- Introduce them to farmers/landowners who have declared an interest in farm diversification

- Negotiate a working arrangement with farmers/landowners and agree a working contract

- Undertake farm SWOT analysis

- Identify long list of appropriate investment opportunities

- Quantify market opportunities for long list and trim back to short list

- Undertake detailed market analysis of short listed projects

- Assess market access/transportation/storage for short listed projects

- Check out planning implications for short listed projects and fulfil requirements

- Develop business plans and investment proposals for priority projects

- Select funding options, extending over grants, loan and investment options

- Present proposals to funding sources and secure funding

- Devise Project Implementation Plan to cover Marketing, Financing and Supply

- Select and train Business Management Team and staff

- Update Business Plan to make ready for implementation

- Implement Business Plan

- Evaluate results

- Incorporate lessons learned from mistakes

- Re-design Business Model


Farm Diversification Ireland ( has the capability to take a professional approach to implementing this Business Model.




What are the potential Outputs?


- Jobs, direct jobs for members of team and indirect jobs from new projects implemented

- New processed farm products and/or new services

- A successful farm diversification model

- Proof of concept which would enable the model to be rolled out throughout the country

- A new consulting service, providing a professional diversification service to farmers/landowners and built by participants on the programme

- A diversification model that could give confidence to investors such as Leader, Springboard

- A farm diversification model that could be exported throughout EU where there is high unemployment

- A Cadre of professional, free lance farm diversification Consultants

- Increased Revenue flowing into farms

- Reduced farm income fluctuation through diversification of revenue sources

- Better utilisation of farm land

- Increased Exports of food products


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