Kilkenny could be the centre of sugar beet industry
North Kilkenny councillor Mary Hilda Cavanagh proposed a motion at Kilkenny County Council’s December meeting asking her colleagues to support her proposal that the council work with other local authorities in the southeast to restore the sugar beet industry in the area.
“Sugar beet is not a relic of our past but a crop of the future due to its huge potential in the area of ethanol production.
“Hundreds of farmers in Co Kilkenny successfully grew sugar beet for many years with an average of 25 acres each, and sugar beet was considered the best cash crop. Beet was a great crop for rotation and besides the beet head the tops were full of good animal feed. The loss of the sugar beet industry was a devastating blow to farmers in Kilkenny.”
Cllr Cavanagh explains that a new feasibility study (by the Irish Sugar Beet Bio-Refinery Group) now suggests that the revival of the sugar beet industry for ethanol production has the potential to create 5,000 jobs if a bio refinery plant is constructed to produce ethanol.
“The plant proposed would cost €350m to build and would have the capacity to process 1.2m tons of sugar with the remainder going to produce ethanol, ending the need for imports.
“Kilkenny is perfectly situated as a potential location for such a plant. We are in the heart of the old beet growing area, between the old beet factories in Thurles and Carlow.
“Kilkenny County Council must play its part in helping to progress this project which has the potential to deliver jobs in construction, transport, and farming as well as work for agri-contractors. The economic crisis that we face demands imaginative solutions and it is important to pursue any feasible employment-generating strategies and I will be working with Minister Hogan to progress this issue,” she concluded.