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Minister Cuffe announces grant aid of €3.8M for Horticulture Growers

Mr. Ciarán Cuffe TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, with special responsibility for Horticulture today announced a grant aid package of €3.8 million under the Grant Scheme for the Development of the Horticulture Sector under the National Development Plan (2007-2013).

Grants to 107 horticultural producers for capital investments in new facilities are provided for in the package.  The grant aid covers all areas of the horticultural production sector - including mushrooms, protected crops, nursery crops, field vegetables, soft fruits/apples and bee-keeping/others - and will help to fund on-farm investments of about €9.6 million.

Minister of State Cuffe said "We should all be encouraged by the level of confidence shown by horticultural producers in their own businesses and demonstrated by the number of very worthwhile projects seeking assistance under the Scheme.   The importance of having locally produced fruit and vegetables was brought home to us when the cloud of volcanic ash prevented air travel and interrupted trade in highly perishable products that are normally air freighted from around the world".

Minister of State Cuffe said that horticultural output was now valued at over €300 million annually and retail sales were of the order of €650 million.  The industry employs some 10,000 workers.  Locally grown produce being readily available in the shops is a key indicator for food security in the future. "The investment in structures and equipment will enable producers to improve in the areas of production practices, energy conservation and environmental control.   The investments will improve productivity and improve working conditions for staff".

Minister of State Cuffe added that he would urge shoppers to be on the look out for locally grown fruit and vegetables and reminded them that fresh local food in season tastes good and with less transportation and storage costs is better for the environment. We should support local producers and by doing so we are making an investment in our own community.

Date Released: 10 May 2010