Horticulture businesses based in Wicklow can apply to a new €9 million scheme to encourage sustainable and eco-friendly work practices.
The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for Horticulture, Senator Pippa Hackett recently announced the opening of the 2022 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector.
Giving details of the competitive scheme, which is open to all horticultural sectors, and which will provide capital grant aid at a rate of up to 40 per cent to all approved investments, the Minister said: ‘’I am delighted that the 50 per cent increase in funding secured in 2021 has been maintained for 2022. This scheme not only aids existing producers but also new entrants to horticulture. With qualifying young farmers receiving up to 50 per cent grant aid, the scheme is there to support the next generation of farmers as well.”
The scheme, which covers all horticultural areas, including field vegetables, mushrooms, protected food crops, amenity crops, soft fruit, and apples, to beekeeping, aims to facilitate environmentally friendly practices, promote the diversification of on-farm activities, improve the quality of products and improve working conditions.
‘’This scheme is 100 per cent funded by the Irish Government and the €9 million in continued funding demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the sector in meeting the challenges it faces but also recognising the many opportunities for the sector in future, including for instance, opportunities from the replacement of imports with locally grown fruit and vegetables. I have seen at first-hand how the horticulture producers of Ireland have embraced new technologies to improve sustainability and to facilitate environmentally friendly practices and this scheme further aids these efforts,” the minister added.
The Irish horticulture sector generated output with a farm gate value of almost €469 million in 2020, with an estimated 6,600 people employed full time in primary production activity and a further 11,000 employed in value added and downstream businesses.
The Department of Agriculture said the scheme for capital grants would accept applications until Friday, December 17.