State-of-the-art storage facility completed for Apple Growers' Association

The country's oldest top fruit growers' cooperative has kitted itself out for the 21st century by building a state-of-the-art storage facility.

The five-chamber building in Horsmonden was completed for the Apple Growers' Association (AGA) by contractor International Controlled Atmosphere.

Some 40 per cent of the £600,000 facility was funded by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), which is set to be replaced by a local enterprise partnership (LEP) as part of Government cost-cutting reforms.

Last week, the NFU warned that only a handful of the 24 proposed LEPs so far recognised food and farming as key sectors.

AGA chairman David Knight said: "We could not have done it without SEEDA. Regional development agencies have given the top fruit industry a real boost. If we are going to produce more home-grown fruit, we need this kind of support. If we had applied for funding now, we would not have got the money."

The building was finished in mid September in time for the harvest, despite funding difficulties. "We had to change banks halfway through because our bank could not fund the grant while we waited for SEEDA money," said Knight.

"Fortunately, we found another bank. We were having to hire storage but this has enabled us to bring it all back home." He added that this year's harvest was better than in 2009, which was "a hard year".


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