€5.4 million has been awarded to successful projects under the 2016 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector.

The grant aid approved covers all areas of the horticultural industry, including field vegetables, mushrooms, protected food crops, outdoor soft fruit and apples, nursery crops, cut foliage, Christmas trees, flower bulbs and beekeeping.

The awards announced will support investments by 154 commercial producers in specialist horticultural buildings and equipment costing approximately €13.5 million.

“I am delighted to have been appointed as Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine,” said the new Minister of State for Horticulture, Andrew Doyle T.D. at the announcement today.

“The horticulture sector is among my key responsibilities and I look forward to working with all the stakeholders involved in the sector.”

Ireland’s horticulture industry, at farm gate level, contributed almost €350m to the value of agricultural output in 2015.

There is understood to be significant value-added and employment involved in Irish horticultural product processing, distribution and retailing.

The objectives of the Scheme of Investment Aid are:

  • to facilitate environmentally friendly practices,
  • to promote the diversification of on-farm activities,
  • to improve the quality of products
  • to improve working conditions in the sector.

“This competitive grant aid scheme provides the main source of funding for Ireland’s horticulture industry,” Doyle said.

“By promoting efficient, environmentally sustainable production, encouraging sustainable growth, as well as facilitating production targeted at more quality-conscious consumers, this Scheme is well aligned with the objectives for Ireland’s agri-food sector set out in Food Wise 2025”.

Claims for investments under the 2016 Scheme must be lodged to the Department by 30th September 2016.

However, a small number of projects where additional time is justified have been granted an extension until 29th September 2017, to submit claims for completed approved investments.