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Minister Smith announces grant aid of €6m in Captial Investment Grants for the development of the Horticulture Industry

Mr. Brendan Smith T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for the Horticulture industry, today announced a grant aid package of €6.3m under the Department's Scheme of Investment Aid for the development of the Commercial Horticulture sector. The aid package is to support capital investments of €18m in specialised plant and equipment in all areas of the industry - apples, beekeeping, field vegetables, mushrooms, nursery crops, protected crops and soft fruit.

Welcoming the strong response to the scheme, Minster Smith said the awarding of grant aid to 150 horticulture producers is the highest since the scheme commenced in 2000 and is an indicator of the high level of confidence by producers in the industry. "This confidence is further bolstered by recent studies on the importance of fruit and vegetables in a healthy diet, while in the case of the amenity horticulture sector the rapidly growing housing market, landscaping and infrastructural developments are giving rise to increased demand for shrubs and ornamental plants", said Minister Smith.

Minister Smith said that the aid package announced today brings the total grant aid under the 2000 - 2006 National Development Plan for the horticulture sector to €19m representing an overall capital investment of some €54m.

Minister Smith added that these grants will improve the competitiveness and market orientation of the industry and help the sector avail of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. "The scheme has been critical in providing seed capital to assist the ongoing development of the horticulture sector at farm level, particularly given the capital-intensive nature of projects and the large-scale investments needed in some sectors" Minister Smith concluded.

A breakdown of the grant aid approved for each sector is given in the Annex beneath.

Sector No of
Approvals
Investment
approved
Grant aid
awarded
Apples/Others 16 1.246 0.436
Field Veg. 39 3.436 1.203
Protected Crops 15 3.573 1.250
Nursery Crops 33 2.068 0.724
Soft Fruit 13 1.389 0.486
Mushrooms 34 6.157 2.155
Total 150 17.869 6.254

3 April, 2006

Date Released: 03 April 2006