Kilkennny food crop company announce €1m investment, 10 new jobs
A KILKENNY company that is making waves internationally for innovation in niche food crop production today announced a major €1 million investment in a new Research & Development centre.
The investment by Beotanics, which includes a plant science laboratory, plant quarantine and R&D greenhouse at its headquarters in Stoneyford, was announced at an event at Mount Juliet today, which was attended by EU Commissioner Phil Hogan (pictured).
Beotanics is an AgTech spinout from an innovative alternative farm enterprise set up in 1990. Since then it has become a European leader in the development of niche food crops such as sweet potato, yacon and wasabi. Beotanics has developed extensive growing facilities and covers a wide range of plant science and production capabilities.
Founder Pat FitzGerald is renowned internationally for this innovation in the Horticulture sector. The €1 million investment will allow Pat and his team scale up their ground-breaking work on a further series of crops by applying traditional breeding practices and by leveraging international breeder collaborations which has been a key part of their success to date.
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, the former Kilkenny TD Phil Hogan, visited Beotanics today to meet with the owners, Pat and Nóirín FitzGerald, and their 43-strong Irish team and announce the expansion plans. The expansion and growth to date is supported by Enterprise Ireland, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership and Kilkenny Local Enterprise Office (LEO).
Beotanics is also working closely with technical, phytosanitary regulation and marketing support from Teagasc, Shannon ABC at LIT, the Irish Department of Agriculture and An Bord Bia.
Commenting on the €1 million expansion investment, Commissioner Hogan said: “Beotanics is now a key Irish player on the international stage in discovering new ways to feed the planet, improve human health, balance resources, enhance biodiversity and reduce the environmental impact of crop production. It is a true example of a firm which is acting local and thinking global and by doing so providing locally innovative, viable and sustainable Rural Development alternatives. It is growing the Irish rural economy on the strength of Irish environmental factors.”
The Beotanics team already includes PhD, Masters and Plant Science experts, research scientists and agronomists spread across Kilkenny and Wexford. Beotanics also has a 50 per cent joint venture sweet potato farm operation, NativaLand, which is based in Portugal. It employs agronomists and support staff across a 25 hectare, intensive sweet potato plant production operation.
The Kilkenny expansion is expected to lead to over 10 further jobs within the firm at its Stoneyford headquarters, with downstream part time contracted staff and other spin off rural employment created in the coming few years.
Mr FitzGerald said: “We want to be the go-to experts for our chosen crops and targeted evolving food ingredients and new variety development with added nutrition and bio actives. The future of food is readjusting to become more plant-based. We’ve specialised in plant production development for over 25 years and this is a necessary natural progression for the business.
“Everything we do comes from a social need. We’re pro-balance. We want to bring more complimentary options into the food chain that are vegetable and plant based and widen the Irish and European opportunity in crop production rotations.
“Our plant science, agronomy and food teams collaborate to harness and optimise what nature offers and deliver and support it in the best possible way. Our own and our international network of plant scientists are discovering and developing plant varieties with exceptional ingredients potential then working with growers and farmers for local adaptation.”
Beotanics works hand in hand with organisations in Ireland and abroad, among these, Teagasc and Enterprise Ireland, UCC, UCD, TCD and Shannon ABC at Limerick IT, as well as in USA Louisiana State University.
PHOTO: Dylan Vaughan of Beotanics CEO Pat Fitzpatrick and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan