Written Answers. - Horticulture Industry.

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

17 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will honour the Government commitment to fund developments in horticulture by ?3.7 million each year until 2006 in view of the fact that horticulture has a farm-gate value of ?360 million per annum. [19178/03]

The scheme of investment aid for the development of the commercial horticulture sector is funded under the National Development Plan 2000-2006. Under the first round of the scheme, which covered the period 2001 to 2002, a total of 263 applicants were approved grant aid amounting to €6.494 million. Of these, 183 applicants completed eligible investments within the specified time period and were paid €3.582 million. The funding for the scheme was necessarily subject to review in the formulation of the budget expenditure for 2003 and the experiences gained from the earlier round. An amount of €1.4 million was provided for round two of the scheme, which will end on 31 December 2003. Funding for the scheme for 2004 will be decided in light of the budget Estimates which will be agreed later this year.