The announcement of the opening of the fifth round of the Grant Aid Scheme for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector was welcomed by vegetable and fruit growers around the country. Major incentives such as this are needed to ensure that growers continue to supply the market with Irish produce. The scheme covers all horticultural sectors – protected crops, nursery crops, field vegetables, soft fruit, apples, beekeeping and, mushrooms.
IOA also welcomed Minister McEntee’s comments when he stated that “big retailers need to show more respect for producers if the Irish horticultural sector is to survive”. It is disheartening to see major retailers selling seasonal vegetables as lost leaders to get people into their shops. This practice was widely adopted before Christmas, and to a commercial grower the notion that vegetables such as Brussels sprouts (which take 6 months to grow!) were selling for as little as 22c a bag is quite insulting.
While the good news story last week was the €8.9billion in food exports sold in 2011 by Irish food and drink companies, we also need to acknowledge that in the same period we spent €1billion on importing fruit and vegetables into Ireland. This includes a figure of €100m on apples which could easily be grown in Ireland. Growing fruit and vegetables for a living is tough work however steps need to be taken to reduce the dependence on imports in order to become more sustainable in horticultural production. In light of this measures such as this grant aid scheme are welcome in order to achieve that.
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For more information please contact
Grace Maher, Development Officer IOFGA,
Tel 087 6125989, email@example.com, www.iofga.org
Notes to editor:
1.Details of the scheme and application forms can be obtained from Crop Policy, Production and Safety Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Administration Building, Backweston Campus, Young’s Cross, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, (01) 5058886 or at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmerschemespayments/horticultureschemes/ The closing date for receipt of applications is 10th February 2012 and only investments commenced after the issue of letters of approval will be eligible for aid.
2.IOA are the largest certification body in Ireland and are responsible for certifying the organic provenance of its members produce and the IOA symbol indicates that a product has met the highest standard of organic integrity. IOA also works to inform the public about the benefits of organic food and to support the development of organic food production in Ireland. For more information please see www.iofga.org