Farming Connect reports on the winners of the first round of the Horticulture Development Scheme

December 2023 | Farm to fork, Featured, Rural policy

Farming Connect have drawn attention to some of the individuals who have been successful in winning a development grant to buy new equipment through the Horticulture Development Scheme. The aim of the Horticulture Development scheme is to help those who work in the horticulture industry to invest and develop their businesses.

In a statement, Farming Connect highlighted the stories of Tom Rees and Andy Matthews who both run commercial horticulture businesses in Wales.

The grant has enabled Tom Rees to invest in potato harvesting equipment making the process of harvesting his crop this year more efficient. Mr Rees used the grant to help to buy a triple tiller and a belt planter. He farms on Dudwell Farm near Haverfordwest, and the new equipment allows him to till the land and make ridges at the same time.

Mr Rees said:

‘I would never have been able to get both these pieces of equipment      in one go last year without the Horticulture Development Scheme grant’

Andy Matthews grows fruit and vegetables in Aberbran Fawr near Brecon, and he used the grant to invest in watering and nutrient systems for the soft fruit he grows on the farm. After trying to use second hand equipment after moving to producing fruit on tabletops and pots for his pick your own business, he faced several problems resulting in plant loss. The grant enabled him to buy a new gradual feeding system that is much more reliable.

Mr Matthews said:

‘It would have been tough buying this equipment without the 40% funding because, at two hectares, we are quite a small enterprise, but we need similar equipment to businesses that are doing things on a much bigger scale. The grant was a game-changer, having it enable us to do everything in one hit.’’

The Horticulture Development Scheme was established as part of Wales’ green recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic. The aim of the Scheme is to support established commercial horticultural producers to invest in new equipment and technology. It is also open to horticultural businesses that want to increase production in a sustainable way, diversify their business to be able to grow new and different crops and to improve production quality and efficiency. The other objectives of the scheme are to improve access to new markets, improve chances to employ local people and to support the foundations of the rural economy.

The latest round of the scheme is now open to applications until 12 January 2024, with a budget of £1 million to award to horticultural businesses.

For more information regarding the scheme and to see how you can make an application, go to the Welsh Government’s website.

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