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Irish growers claim only domestic support and fair pricing will keep them going

Over the last twelve months, several Irish veg growers — both on a large and smaller scale — have stated that year would be their last harvest as prices paid failed to keep up with the spiraling cost of inputs. This has been a trend seen across Northern Europe. Major growing countries such as the Netherlands have dramatically scaled back production levels, put off growing through the autumn and winter by high gas and electricity prices. Horticultural industry reports suggest the area of tomatoes grown under lights in the Netherlands this winter may be just an eighth of the 800 hectares typically grown.

Now, as vegetable aisles are emptying across Ireland, Irish growers have warned the public to "use us or lose us."

David Currid, one of just a handful of glasshouse tomato growers in Ireland, is the chairman of the Quality Green Producer Organisation, which represents several of the major commercial glasshouse growers in Ireland. He warned that the issue of food security for fresh fruit and vegetables could be further exacerbated if local growers aren't supported and paid more for their produce.

Growers in Ireland do have the ability to grow through the winter, but as Currid said: "Prices aren't justifying year-round glasshouse growing." He added: "We need Irish customers to support Irish produce because that's our market."

"We need people to take the opportunity when they are in the supermarket to look at produce and ask where it comes from. As long as customers ask for Irish, we have a future, but if that reduces, we will really struggle. We are very exposed as an island nation. We can grow the best crop we can, but we are dependent on the retailers and the government through the Horticultural Emergency Payment Scheme that helped us last year."


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