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O’Neill announces £3.6m boost for agri-food sector

MUSHROOMING BUSINESS: Agriculture Minister Michelle ONeill is pictured at Unimush Ltd, Armagh where she announced the re-opening of the Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme. Included are Seamus Cassidy and Plunkett Curry Directors of Unimush Ltd, which has benefited from the latest PMG awards. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography

MUSHROOMING BUSINESS: Agriculture Minister Michelle ONeill is pictured at Unimush Ltd, Armagh where she announced the re-opening of the Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme. Included are Seamus Cassidy and Plunkett Curry Directors of Unimush Ltd, which has benefited from the latest PMG awards. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography

AGRICULTURE Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced awards of £3.6 million to 19 companies under the Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme.

The scheme, which opened for applications from Monday 26 November 2012, provides financial support up to £0.5 million for capital investment in buildings and plant and equipment for business working in the agri-food processing sector.

Speaking during a visit to Armagh business, Unimush Ireland Ltd, the minister said: “Funding provided for investment in new buildings, plant and equipment will continue to help agri-food companies grow and remain competitive in the market place. The capital investments and our contribution has demonstrated how this can help local food processors to continue to develop and improve the economic performance of a sector that has shown good resilience during the recent economic downturn.”

During her visit to Unimush Ireland Ltd, a fresh mushroom sourcing, grading, pre-packing and processing business, the minister was able to see at first hand how investment made through the PMG Scheme in 2006 and now in 2012 had helped the company improve efficiency and quality through the construction of a purpose built factory and the purchase of plant and equipment. This latest PMG award of £50,000 will help the company to invest in new grading and pre-packing mushroom equipment.

Seamus Cassidy, director at Unimush Ireland Ltd, thanked the minister for visiting the company to hear and see how they had grown since the first PMG award in 2006.

He said: “Without the backing of the PMG Scheme and the confidence it gave us to move forward and improve the business, we would not be in the position we are today, where we now employ 50 people, having started with just five.”

Since the PMG Scheme started in July 2008, funding of £16.2 million has been committed to 69 projects across Northern Ireland. When the private sector funding contribution of 60% is taken on board, this equates to a total capital investment of close to £40 milion.

The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) works in partnership with Invest NI in the delivery of the PMG Scheme.

 
 
 

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