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Official opening of the Teagasc National Soft Fruit Conference 2006

Ms. Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food said that the Irish soft fruit market is estimated to be worth approximately €30m.

Opening the annual National Soft Fruit Conference and Trade Show today, Minister Wallace said that changing production systems, pest and disease control, the sourcing of plants and the availability of labour are all issues that have confronted soft fruit growers over the last few years. Increasing demand for quality fruits over a longer marketing period has necessitated a change from predominantly outdoor production for the processing market, to protected production with a longer growing season of high quality fruits for the fresh market. "Irish soft fruit growers have responded admirably through the adoption of new technologies, investment in protected production systems and improvement in management techniques. These combined efforts have made the soft fruit sector into one of the fastest 'growing' sectors within the horticultural industry" the Minister said.

Minister Wallace said that the NDP Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector, which is operated by the Department of Agriculture and Food, has been a factor in the increased output. This year alone grant aid of over €6 million will be provided, funding projects to the value of over €17million.

4 May 2006

Date Released: 04 May 2006