KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - July 5, 2013) - The British Columbia tree fruit industry is getting a boost from the Government of Canada for research into new apple and sweet cherry varieties. The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and Member of Parliament Ron Cannan (Kelowna-Lake Country) announced today on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz an investment for the British Columbia Fruit Growers' Association to help producers better meet growing market demands.
"B.C. is known worldwide for producing top-quality tree fruits such as apples and cherries," said Minister Van Loan. "Through key investments in research and development, we are positioning the sector for long-term growth and profitability."
Apples and sweet cherries are two of the most important tree fruit crops grown in Canada, and are responsible for more than 80 per cent of the farm gate value of Canadian-grown tree fruits. This $3.2M project will support the BC Fruit Growers' Association in developing new apple and sweet cherry varieties, as well as improving disease and pest management practices. By introducing new varieties, producers will be able to meet evolving market demands and increase their competiveness and sustainability.
"The world population and consumer demands are changing and growing," said MP Cannan. "By investing in innovation and new technology, we are creating the right environment for our farms to be profitable and competitive by helping producers capture new opportunities both here in Canada and abroad."
Agriculture Minister Ritz was recently in China where Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada successfully gained new market access for fresh cherry exports from B.C. The B.C. Cherry Industry estimates that by 2014, the sales value of fresh cherries to China will be $10M, and over the next five years will double to $20M.
"We want to thank all of the scientists who are involved in this research, as well as our federal funding partners at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. This investment will help to enhance the benefits of new varieties for the growers," said Jeet Dukhia, President of the BC Fruit Growers' Association.
This support from the AgriInnovation Program under Growing Forward 2, builds on a previous investment of $2.3M under Developing Innovative Agri-Products as part of Growing Forward for research into new tree fruit varieties.
The Industry-led research and development stream of the $698 million AgriInnovation Program supports pre-commercialization research, development and knowledge transfer leading to innovative agriculture, agri-food and agri-based practices, processes and products. The terms of this investment are subject to the signing of contribution and collaboration agreements.
The new Growing Forward 2 policy framework, which came into effect on April 1, 2013, will continue to drive innovation and long-term growth in Canada. In addition to a generous suite of business risk management programs, governments have agreed to invest more than $3 billion over five years in innovation, competitiveness, and market development.
For more information on the Growing Forward 2 agreement and the AgriInnovation Program, please visit www.agr.gc.ca/growingforward2.