The Irish firm Beotanics is investing €1 million in a new Research & Development Centre which includes a plant science laboratory, plant quarantine and R&D greenhouse at its headquarters in Stoneyford, Co Kilkenny.
Beotanics is an AgTech spinout from an innovative alternative farm enterprise set up in 1990, and 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.
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, visited Beotanics this Wednesday, to meet with 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).
"This investment will allow our team to scale up the 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 our success to date", Pat FitzGerald says.
Beotanics is passionate about sourcing and cultivating rare or forgotten crops and crop varieties that have latent potential, he added. “We use meticulous cultivation and selection practices to develop winning cultivars of plants which are category leaders not only in terms of yield, but also nutrition and functionality. At Beotanics, our ethos is to ensure that the nutritional and bioactive quality of our products is never compromised."
“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."
Hogan commented: “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.”
He added: “Their work showcases Ireland and Europe as a leading global innovator in producing crops in a natural, transparent and fair way to enhance taste, appearance and nutritional value.”
“The Beotanics passion for horticultural innovation shines through. Beotanics is now working with and visiting an ever-increasing number of growers and farmers, not just in Ireland including as far away as Hawaii, Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, USA, Portugal, The Netherlands, Germany and Japan and other European countries.
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, MD, Pat FitzGerald, said.
Beotanics works with a significant grower network and is further reaching out to the food and beverage industry, ingredients companies, integrated food companies and the life science industry with the new investment. 97% of all of its sales are export. The family group has developed a solid base from which to further grow an ambitious, rural-based company as an international niche player in the plant based food sector.
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