Written answers

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Department of Agriculture and Food

Food Industry

8:00 pm

Photo of Andrew DoyleAndrew Doyle (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Question 1047: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the fact that the vegetable and fruit exports dropped 44% from 2007 to 2008; the causes of this decrease; the action he will take to support the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38774/09]

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Minister, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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The Central Statistics Office report that the value of Irish exports of fruit and vegetables (excluding bananas, preserves, jams and fruit juices) fell by just 3% from €205m in 2007 to €199m in 2008. It is worth noting that exports of mushrooms the single most important export crop in Irish horticulture increased by almost 9% from €111m in 2007 to €121m in 2008.

My Department and its Agencies consistently support the development of the export potential of the Horticulture sector through its grant aid schemes and other supports to this sector. Aid is available under the NDP scheme of investment aid for the commercial horticulture sector and the scheme for capital investments in marketing and processing in the horticulture sector to assist in the upgrading or development of facilities with the aim of maximizing the potential of the sector.

The EU Producer Organisation (PO) scheme provides an important mechanism for growers to become part of a larger supply base, to concentrate marketing and improve quality. The reform of the EU's common organisation of the market in fruit and vegetables which came into effect on 1 January 2009 identified a strengthening role for POs as the core part of the strategy for improving the competitiveness of the fruit and vegetable sector in the future.

Bord Bia can provide information on international market trends and support producers in their efforts to develop new markets. It can help in the area of product innovation and also provide support for horticultural producers in the application of marketing skills, including merchandising, product presentation and public relations.

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