Grower collaboration, research and development, market opportunities and public policy were among the topics at the top of the agenda at a meeting of the Horticulture Industry Forum (HIF) on Tuesday.

Minister for State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett told the meeting that development will take effort and commitment, with the help of an increased budget allocation for horticulture for the 2021.

“The 50% budget increase for the scheme of investment aid for the development of the commercial horticulture sector, to €9m signals clearly that we are supporting ongoing expansion and development,” Minister Hackett said.

“This is a sector with huge potential and today was a welcome opportunity to look at important areas for its development, including grower collaboration, research and development, market opportunities and public policy.”

Challenges and opportunities

Minister Hackett highlighted the ambition of the industry shown through the forum, in spite of challenges posed by Brexit and COVID-19.

“There is scope for researching and developing home-grown, plant-based produce and products, so I am really keen to work with this industry in delivering on its potential.”

“Whilst there are challenges related to COVID-19 and Brexit, I believe it is resilient enough to work through these and to exploit the opportunities ahead.”