IFA National Potato Chairman Sean Ryan said the announcement of the €3m scheme for the seed potato sector is a positive first step.
IFA met with the Minister earlier this year and have continued to engage with senior Department officials on funding and support options for the development of the sector.
Prior to Brexit, Ireland had been importing approximately 6,000t of seed potatoes from the UK each year, with 60% of the certified seed that is planted in Ireland coming from Scotland. The area of seed potato crops for certification in Ireland increased to 299 hectares in 2021. This figure will need to double for domestic demand.
“We look forward to working with Dept officials to put measures in place to support the sector against Brexit and other challenges currently experienced by the sector. The scheme must ensure priority access to current seed producers to help them to expand to reach domestic demand,” he said.
The scheme sets out to accelerate development of capacity within the sector and aid improvements in the production, storage and marketing infrastructure of seed potatoes by providing grant assistance to producers towards the capital cost of specialised equipment and facilities. The scheme will be funded from Ireland’s allocation from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve Fund (BAR).
An IFA delegation is meeting with the Minister tomorrow to discuss the challenges for the potato sector and we will seek additional information on the new proposed scheme.