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Minister Sargent announces Grant Aid Scheme for Horticulture Growers

Mr Trevor Sargent T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, with special responsibility for Horticulture today announced details of the first round of the grant aid scheme for the development of the horticulture sector under the National Development Plan (2007-2013).

The closing date for receipt of applications is 30th November 2007 and only investments commenced after the issue of letters of approval will be eligible.

This aid which is set at 40% (50% in the case of young farmers) of total capital investment will fund projects in commercial horticultural production carried out in 2007 /2008. The scheme covers all horticultural sectors - mushrooms, protected crops, nursery crops, field vegetables, soft fruit, apples and beekeeping - and is aimed at assisting growers to efficiently produce high quality products in a very competitive market.

Minister Sargent said that horticultural output was now valued at over €300m and retail sales were of the order of €650m. The importance of fruit and vegetables in a healthy diet and the growth in the amenity sector were key pointers for the future. "There is need for improved production structures and equipment for energy conservation, good agriculture practice, proper hygiene and environmental standards and improved working conditions. These are essential to increase competitiveness, ensure sustainable production and to assist growers in meeting the increasing demands of retail outlets in terms of production standards," said Minister Sargent.

Minister Sargent said that there is need to sustain and develop expertise as well as grow production capacity at close to existing levels in order that production volume is in balance where possible with domestic demand thus reducing the carbon footprint.

Details of the scheme and application forms can be obtained from Crop Production and Safety Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, 01 5053345/5053347 or at www.agriculture.gov.ie

11 October, 2007

Date Released: 11 October 2007