The 2022 scheme of investment aid for the development of the commercial horticulture sector was opened on Friday 22 October by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for horticulture Senator Pippa Hackett.

The scheme, which has a funding allocation of €9m, is aimed at developing the commercial horticulture sector and supporting sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices.

It offers standard grant aid of up to 40% on approved investments, while qualifying young farmers are eligible for grant aid of up to 50%. The scheme closes for applications on 17 December 2021.

Minister Hackett said: "I am delighted that the 50% 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% grant aid, the scheme is there to support the next generation of farmers as well.”

Crop types

The scheme covers all horticultural areas including field vegetables, mushrooms, protected food crops, amenity crops, soft fruit and apples to beekeeping.

As touched upon already, Minister Hackett says it 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% funded by the Irish Government and the €9m 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.”

Sector value

The Department of Agriculture reports the horticulture sector generated output with a farmgate value of almost €469m in 2020, with an estimated 6,600 employed full-time in primary production activity and a further 11,000 employed in value-added and downstream businesses.

“The industry continues to be very dynamic, where growers and producers are constantly improving sustainability through the adoption of lean technologies and energy-efficient systems,” the Minister said.