Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

January 29, 2010 17:15 ET

Government of Canada Invests in Fruit Grower Research and Innovation

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 29, 2010) - New apple and sweet cherry varieties will help Canadian tree fruit growers expand production and give them a competitive edge in markets around the world. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Member of Parliament Ron Cannan (Kelowna-Lake Country) announced today that the Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation will receive up to $2.3 million to enhance and accelerate the commercialization of new high-quality varieties.

"The Government of Canada is working to deliver a strong future for Canadian tree fruit growers through investments in science and innovation," said Minister Ritz. "Growers need new varieties to remain competitive and this investment will help growers deliver high quality food to Canadians and consumers around the world."

The investment will help the development of new varieties that appeal to consumers, tree fruit breeding and refining horticultural practices. The commercialization of new apple and sweet cherry varieties will help expand domestic production and increase exports of tree fruit products.

"Our Government knows that farmers, producers and growers are a cornerstone of Canada's economy," said Mr. Cannan. "Investments like these will help growers here in B.C. and throughout Canada tap new market opportunities, drive our economy and make Canada's fruit industry stronger and more competitive."

The majority of fruit grown in Canada comes from British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Through the intermediary of the Reseau d'essais de cultivars et de porte-greffes de pommiers (RECUPOM), Quebec will also contribute $140,000 to the project, $80,000 of which will come from the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ). The RECUPOM brings together many players of Quebec's apple growing sector, namely those affiliated with the Federation of Quebec Apple Growers, MAPAQ, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, technical support clubs and various Quebec businesses.

"This exciting collaborative partnership with the Canadian government will build on the long-standing and successful relationship that our company has enjoyed in representing the tree fruit breeding programs in Canada," said John Kingsmill, CEO of Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation. "With this project PICO enters into a new phase that will benefit Canadian growers and consumers alike by enabling us to better manage the development, selection, testing, evaluation and uptake of new high quality apple and cherry varieties."

Canada is a leader in developing and bringing new tree fruit varieties to market. In 2008, apple and sweet cherry varieties accounted for 77 per cent of the farm gate value of tree fruits grown in Canada, with sweet cherry production valued at $25 million and the farm gate value of apples at $178 million.

This project is being funded by the Developing Innovative Agri-Products initiative, which supports industry-led science and technology projects. The initiative is part of the larger AgriInnovations program, a $158 million five-year program announced last May to promote industry-led innovation initiatives that help get new agricultural products into the marketplace and improve agricultural processes.

For more information on the Developing Innovative Agri-Products program please visit (under Growing Forward, Science)

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Media Relations
    The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
    Meagan Murdoch
    Press Secretary