David Currid of Grantstown Tomatoes, one of Waterford’s most respected food brands.
Photo: Grantstown Nurseries
The Chairman of the Quality Green Producer Organisation, David Currid of Ballygunner-based Grantstown Tomatoes, said that he and his fellow local growers need to be paid more for their output.
Speaking to The Irish Examiner’s Farming supplement on Thursday, March 2, Mr Currid said that problems relating to food security may increase without necessary supports for Irish fruit and vegetable growers.
Given the current growing issues in Spain and North Africa, along with scaled back growing levels in The Netherlands due to rising energy costs, empty or sparingly stocked shelves have become evident in recent weeks.
Said Mr Currid: “Generally, in the wintertime, most of the tomatoes coming into Ireland would come in from Spain or Morocco. Morocco has had a lot of problems with tomato brown rugose virus. It’s a very serious virus that affects tomato crops around the world, but thankfully, hasn’t come to Ireland yet, although it has been picked up in almost every other European country.”
This, combined with a cold snap in Southern Spain, has “created the perfect storm from a supply point of view,” said Mr Currid.
Established in 1978, Grantstown Tomatoes grow approximately 250 tonnes of tomatoes annually in its extensive glasshouse facility.
In the Examiner report by Rachel Martin, David Currid said he began growing earlier this year “despite the increased costs because of an issue with his seedling supplier”.
He added: “We need Irish customers to support Irish produce, because that’s our market — we are a net importer of fruit and veg in Ireland. 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.”
With commercial gas prices down 25 per cent from this time last year, Mr Currid acknowledged that prices remain “almost double what they were before. The waters are still a bit choppy”.
He questioned: “Can growers keep going and keep taking these risks year after year? Without the prices we need to cover our input costs, that’s the future we are looking at. Food is really going to have to increase in price, because we are not going to go back to the days of cheap energy between the impact of wars and climate targets.”