I’m delighted that moves are taking place to start up the sugar industry in Ireland again.
It has always been my belief that it should never have been closed down as it brought so many benefits to the county.
The closure was done in a very secretive way.
Why did the politicians not take an interest? Beet was always very important to Kerry as it was a cash crop and had beneficial by-products.
It was health-giving to the land and a useful rotational crop.
The beet crowns were removed before the root was sent to the factory and were left in the field for animals to feed on. The pulp remaining after the sugar had been extracted was used as an animal feed and if ploughed into the land it had an enriching effect. The growers were entitled to a quota of it at a reduced price.
There were other ways it benefited the county; for example the rail line to Castlegregory would probably have closed earlier only for the goods trains transporting the beet to Mallow via Tralee.
Sugar beet was a very good crop for the average, middle-sized, farmer, but the bigger farmers were more interested in meat and dairy.
It is good to see that Kerry Group are now in favour of producing our own sugar again, as they require so much of it for their food ingredient business.
I expect the Government to get seriously to work to review the wrongs made by the previous administration and not depend on ‘armchair solutions’.
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