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Minister Smith announces further grant aid of €0.5m for seed potato sector

Mr. Brendan Smith T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for Horticulture at the Department of Agriculture and Food today announced grant aid approvals of €0.5m for the development of the seed potato sector under the framework of the 2000-2006 National Development Plan. The funding will support some 10 capital investment projects of the order of €1.5m for specialised seed production in 2006. This follows on last years scheme success where 14 seed potato growers were approved funding for capital investments of €2m.

Since the NDP scheme for the potato sector began a total of €2.5m in grant aid has been approved for 60 producers which supported capital investments in the potato sector of some €7m.

Minister Smith said that the main objective of the scheme is to speed up improvements in the marketing infrastructure of the seed potato sector by providing grant assistance to seed potato producers towards the capital costs of equipment and facilities for the production, storage and marketing of seed potatoes.

Minister Smith said that a vibrant seed sector was critical for the future development of the whole potato industry which is worth around €80m for the 700 or so growers involved. The need to protect our very high plant health status and exploit many of our natural advantages in addition to our publicly funded research programmes are key objectives in the overall plan for the sector.

Details of the scheme can be obtained from Crop Production & Safety Division, Department of Agriculture and Food, Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth , Co. Kildare, Tel. 5053344 /5053328 or at www.agriculture.gov.ie

27 July, 2006

Date Released: 27 July 2006