Growers of fruits and vegetables say their harvest in under threat because of Government restrictions on taking peat from Irish bogs and the cost of buying in peat from abroad instead.

The horticulture sector is worth almost €470m annually to the Irish economy with 17,600 employees.

About 60% of the value of Irish horticulture is currently dependent on peat with the mushroom, amenity and soft fruit sectors being most reliant.

The industry said it therefore requires continued access to peat until alternatives are developed.

Jim O'Connor, owner of O'Connor Nurseries in Gorey in Co Wexford, said that peat is a huge part of his work.

"There's there is no alternative to peat at the moment," he told Morning Ireland.

Mr O'Connor said that producers have already reduced their use of peat and said the sector "is probably one of the greenest industries in the country".

He said the inability to stop using peat from Irish bogs is akin to closing petrol stations when people are still using petrol and diesel.

"That's what we are facing now because someone has decided that as of last year, there's no more harvesting of peat in Ireland," he stated.

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