The agri-food industry will help drive the local economy in the years ahead.
Those were the views of Ian Jordan, head of business and commercial banking at Ulster Bank, speaking at the Ulster Bank lunch at the Balmoral Show yesterday.
"It is hard to over-state the importance of the agri-food sector to the local economy, providing direct and indirect employment to over 92,000 people, and generating a large amount of sales outside of Northern Ireland," he said.
"The agri-food sector has been one of the strongest performers in the local economy in recent years and has potential to grow further. The UK trade deficit in food of over £18.4bn, for instance, represents a big opportunity."
In December, the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association launched a five-step manifesto which it said could help create over 15,000 new agri-food jobs by 2020.
Trevor Lockhart, chief executive of the Fane Valley Group, an employer of over 1,500 staff, said the new Executive had a duty to support the sector.
He said: "The Executive must recognise the role farming and food can play in increasing employment, growing innovation and in driving exports."