Some €4.3m has been made available for the 2016 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector, by Minister of State Tom Hayes.

Minister Hayes said that this competitive grant aid scheme is the main scheme providing assistance to Irish horticulture growers.

“Investments approved for aid under this scheme will assist growers to diversify, improve quality and add value, provide better working conditions,” Minister Hayes said.

He also said the investments will facilitate environmentally friendly practices all of which, in turn, will contribute to achieving the targets set for the horticulture sector in Food Wise 2025.

The scheme is open to all horticultural sectors – protected crops, nursery crops, field vegetables, soft fruit, apples, beekeeping and mushrooms, he said.

It will provide grant aid, at a rate of 40% (50% in the case of qualifying young farmers), for approved capital investments undertaken by September 30, 2016.

In certain limited cases, however, funding may be approved for investments that will be completed and claimed prior to September 29, 2017, he announced.

“This scheme will assist in improving growers’ competitiveness by grant aiding capital investments in specialised plant and equipment as well as emerging technologies specific to commercial horticulture production,” he said.

The closing date for receipt of applications is December 18, 2015.