£6.6m in funding approved as Objective One bears fruit for Cornwall's horticultural industry
A new £6.6 million grant scheme to support plant and flower growers in Cornwall and Scilly has just been launched after being set up through the Objective One programme.
Over the next three years around 800 firms are expected to benefit from the various grants that are now available.
A new organisation - known as Cornish Horticulture Enterprises - has been set up to run the project and last week began contacting around 750 businesses to advise them of the financial help now on offer.
Training, technology transfer, better marketing of both conventional and organic produce, improved facilities and collaboration between individual businesses will all be supported through the scheme.
Over £1.5 million in funding for the package will come through the Objective One programme from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), with the same amount being provided by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The project has been developed by South West Horticulture 2000 Ltd, a group set up to support businesses in the industry. Expert assistance has also been provided by ADAS.
Roger Whilding of ADAS, who is also a director of the new organisation administering the fund, explained that it will provide both capital and revenue grants.
He said: “The funding available will create around 60 jobs and protect at least another 230. It will also help ensure the future viability and prosperity of at least 800 businesses for years to come.
“Our strategic aim is to find and exploit ways to make Cornish produce even more attractive to buyers – and better known outside the region. Grants will help improve quality, invest in processing and marketing facilities, to build new markets and strengthen existing ones.”
Mr Whilding added: “Cornish Horticulture Enterprises also aims to increase the proportion of produce sold under existing trademarks and associated brands like Cornish King and Peninsula Plants.”
The launch of the new scheme follows previous work done under the European Objective 5b programme. It also follows the industry strategy developed within the Objective One programme by the Cornwall Agricultural Council and has been devised following wide consultation with key players and partnerships in the rural sector.
As well as creating new jobs and protecting existing ones, the project should also raise the quality of jobs in the sector by helping to increase skill levels and creating better working conditions. The grant scheme will have a strong emphasis on the need to invest in training and technology transfer to bring modern work practices and equipment into the horticultural industry.
Mr Whilding said the scheme will also be used to encourage firms to collaborate and work together for mutual benefit.
He said: “A number of collaborative groups already exist within this sector and we will encourage industry groups to work together wherever we can identify suitable opportunities. If the scheme runs well and proves effective in strengthening the horticultural industry and marketing Cornish produce more widely, we may also seek additional funding so we can extend the project until 2008.”
For information on the grants, contact Pat Knight, Cornish Horticulture Enterprises on 01626 890405.
For further information contact:
Tel: 01626 890405
Fax: 01626 891756
| Jason Clark
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD