Gildernew meets representatives from the Mushroom Industry
Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Gildernew MP MLA, met with representatives from the mushroom industry during a visit to a Dungannon mushroom supplier.
The local mushroom industry has faced major challenges in recent years. Competitive pricing from other European countries and downward price pressures has forced many growers out of business.
The Minister spent a day getting an overview of the mushroom supply chain, from compost production to growing, and through packing and distribution.
The Minister said:
"Today has been an excellent opportunity to engage and see at first hand how the industry has dealt with the challenges and difficulties the sector has faced. I have great admiration for the resilience of the mushroom industry and its ability to adapt and remain market focused.
"My Department will continue to offer any support that we can and I have taken on board the concerns that stakeholders have raised with me today."
At the first visit was to Cabragh Compost the Minister was able to see the production stages involved in the manufacturing of Phase III compost. Steven McKew, Managing Director of Cabragh Compost, currently supplies a number of local growers with Phase III compost while his brother Thomas McKew, who operates the adjoining yard, is a major supplier of Phase II compost to the industry. This was followed by a visit to the farm of James Tiffney and his son Dermott who grows mushrooms using Phase III compost and a Dutch shelving system which maximizes mushroom yield per house.
The Minister also visited to K Hughes and Company Ltd in Moy, outside Dungannon. Established in 1965 Hughes Mushrooms are one of Ireland's most successful mushroom marketing companies. They have been supplying Sainsbury's for 10 years and currently market 150,000kg of fresh mushrooms each week.
The day ended with a meeting with industry stakeholders. During which the Minister discussed the key issues facing the mushroom sector including the requirement for additional Phase III compost production, capital investment requirements for Dutch shelving, modernisation of tunnels and downward price pressures coupled with increasing production costs.