12 August 1997
UK horticulture growers claim £20m

FWi staff

UK horticulture growers have submitted applications for £20.7m under a new fruit and vegetable aid scheme set up by the European Union.

The Government has praised the horticultural industry for showing foresight and being quick off the mark in taking advantage of the new money made available by the EU.

Of the recognised 133 producer organisations in the UK (109 in England, 6 in Scotland, 3 in Wales and 15 in Northern Ireland), 52 had submitted applications .

Under the deal, producer groups have to spend an equivalent amount of money if they are to receive funding for their projects. The programmes will be approved over the next three months.

Horticulture minister Lord Donoughue said those seeking the funding reflect the breadth of the UK fruit and vegetable sector, covering small groups of soft fruit producers, groups growing a wide range of vegetables for the multiple supermarkets, and small-scale growers of organic foods for niche markets.

He said the applications varied, with producers wanting to build new cold stores, introduce new packaging machinery and improve quality, handling and marketing, as well as adopt better environmental practices.