Projects introducing new technology to the province's tree fruit industry are receiving support from the governments of Canada and British Columbia, Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, the Honourable Ron Cannan, on behalf of federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, and B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick announced today.
"B.C. has a strong reputation around the world for producing top-quality tree fruits, such as apples and cherries," said Cannan. "These projects and leading-edge technologies will increase profitability and ensure that the region's producers remain industry leaders on the domestic and international stage."
"The B.C. government has been working with industry to focus on innovation and technology as we look at ways to expand their product line and markets," said Letnick. "The investment of more than $200,000 for these six projects will enhance both our province's tree fruit operations and ensure the agrifoods industry continues to be an integral part of British Columbia's economy."
Cawston Cold Storage is receiving more than $106,000 to assist with new storage technology. The investment will enable greater efficiencies in the movement of product in and out of cold storage. The goal of the facility is to extend the B.C. organic apple marketing season by maximizing the post-harvest product storage quality.
"With this funding we are able to secure much needed long-term storage for our products, and this innovative facility will help the B.C. organic agriculture industry remain strong for future generations," said Dan Taylor, operations manager, Cawston Cold Storage.
Coral Beach Farms in Lake Country is receiving more than $35,000 in funding for an innovative software program that will automate the sorting of stemless cherries. The overall purpose of the project is to add value and reduce labour costs by introducing new technologies not currently in use in the B.C. tree fruit industry. The automatic sorting of cherries with and without stems will help the sector take advantage of higher-value export markets that pay a premium for stemmed cherries, leading to increased profitability for farmers.
"This new technology enables us to target specific packs of cherries to specific markets in a very cost effective manner," said Coral Beach Farms president David Geen. "We are appreciative of the support provided through the Agriflex program, which allows us to better serve our customers and compete in global markets."
Four other projects are also receiving funding totalling more than $66,000. The Jind Fruit Company is receiving just over $26,000 for a project to improve cold-storage air quality and conditions at a packing house in Osoyoos. The Okanagan Kootenay Cherry Growers' Association is receiving over $21,000 for two spotted wing drosophila larvae management projects. The BC Fruit Growers Association Research and Development Test Orchard is receiving $19,200 for the creation of quality standards that all cherry-packing organizations can use for their domestic and export markets.
In 2010, the governments of Canada and B.C. together contributed $5 million to the Tree Fruit Market and Infrastructure Initiative. The federal portion of this investment is made through the Agricultural Flexibility Fund (AgriFlex), part of the Economic Action Plan, a five-year (2009-14) program created to help reduce production costs, improve environmental sustainability, promote innovation, and respond to emerging opportunities and market challenges for the sector.
For more information on the B.C. Tree Fruit Market and Infrastructure Innovation Initiative, please visit the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture's website at www.gov.bc.ca/agri/ or contact them at AGR.Minister@gov.bc.ca.
Please visit the Agriculture Flexibility Fund at www.agr.gc.ca/agriflexibility for more information.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
BC Ministry of Agriculture
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
1 866 345-7972
The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz