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Research Funding

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 10 February 2022

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Questions (139)

Paul Kehoe


139. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the research projects that have been funded under the various calls by his Department for research proposals to assist the horticultural sector in navigating challenges including those relating to climate action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6852/22]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Food Vision 2030 Strategy sets out that an expanded horticulture sector would make a valuable contribution to realising a climate-neutral agri-food sector by 2050. From carbon sequestration to enhancing biodiversity, horticultural systems offer many synergies and co-benefits between environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Since 2015, my Department has awarded more than €4 million in funding to horticulture-specific research projects. These aim to address the challenges and exploit the opportunities facing the production and amenity sectors.

Projects cover multiple areas including novel and sustainable breeding practices for potatoes, alternative crops for the cut foliage sector, the development of new, commercially viable plant varieties, horticultural food safety, and climate resilience of the sector.

Under the Department’s most recent 2021 competitive research Call, two projects have been funded that will see investment of almost €2million in horticulture research. “Beyond Peat” will investigate the potential for utilising organic bio-resources and novel technologies to develop specifically designed and sustainable peat replacements for professional horticultural crop production. “RAPID-HORT” aims to develop a circular demonstration model based on Irish grown microgreens that will enhance the economic and environmental sustainability of horticultural food production.

It will also explore the potential of using waste heat from data centres to power vertical farming to reduce waste and achieve greater environmental sustainability. These types of research projects will generate scientific and innovative breakthroughs which can facilitate greater cost effectiveness, sustainability and the generation of value-add in horticultural businesses.

The development of this sector remains a high priority for the government and my Department will continue to support the research needed for the growth and development of a profitable and environmentally sustainable horticultural sector in Ireland.