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Principal Research Areas
Post-crash Economic Strategies
Fruit and nut growing
The production of fruit and nuts will have a major role to play in future food security in Ireland.
However, with the exception of Malta, Ireland produces less fruit per capita than any other country in the EU, even less than Sweden or Finland. There are no nuts produced, though recently, nut orchards have been planted. The knowledge base is largely confined to apples and strawberries. The bulk of apples currently produced commercially are for cullinary or cider-making purposes.
While the full potential is yet to be assessed, a very conservative estimate is that production from tree crops could be increased by a factor of ten. This would entail diversification into a much wider range of fruits, and also the development of nut crops.
Although globalisation and cheap imports are currently an inhibiting factor, this situation will change in favour of localisation as fossil fuels become scarcer and more expensive. However, the lack of knowledge and skills in relation to fruit and nut growing, amongst both the agricultural and the wider population, is likely to be a major limiting factor - one that can only be resolved gradually as new people gain the necessary experience.
The Sustainability Institute is interested in facilitating the development of skills in this area. From autumn 2012 we will be providing training opportunities at our nursery in Westport, Co Mayo.
Modelling for future resilience
Drawing upon a wide range of international experiences - notably Iceland, Denmark and Norway - the Institute is putting together a strategy document for post-oil Ireland. This document will explore the food and energy options open to Ireland during the period 2016-2045.