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.
IOFGA 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.
Source: IOFGA Welcomes Ministerial Commitment to the Commerical Horticultural Sector