Pinder Dhaliwal, BCFGA president, Stephen Fuhr MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau and Erin Wallich, manager for research and development at Summerland Varieties Corp., March 11. Sydney Morton/Capital News

Federal funding will support tree fruit industry

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau came to BC Tree Fruits in Kelowna to announce the $4.2M investment

Canada’s tree fruit industry is getting a $4.2-million investment from the federal government.

On her first agricultural tour, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau met with farmers, processors and industry leaders before announcing the investment, along with Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr.

The funding comes through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership and AgriScience Program in the British Columbia Fruit Growers’ Association and will help develop innovative, commercially successful Canadian-bred apple and sweet cherry cultivars that enhance the profitability of Canada’s tree fruit centre.

READ MORE: Okanagan cherries enter the Japanese market

“This will continue to support the industry and the funding will keep us on the cutting edge,” said Bibeau. “Our government is committed to ensuring the industry and our producers have the tools they need to succeed.”

The investment will help ensure Canada’s growth in the tree fruit industry. In 2017 apples represented 41.5 per cent of the total marketed production of fruit in Canada, valued at $224.6M and cherries represented $88.2M in the same year. Bibeau said B.C. represents three-quarters of exporters of tree fruits in the country.

READ MORE: B.C. farmers aren’t ‘persons’ under new agricultural land legislation

Erin Wallich, manager for research and development at Summerland Varieties Corp., one of the facilities where the research will take place, said the funding will cultivate crucial research.

“We will be able to determine if an apple tree will deliver crisp fruit before it flowers for the first time, and will develop technology to quickly and accurately identify thousands of genotypes and identify which one or two tree fruits are promising,” said Wallich. She said that is only a sample of the research that will be conducted across Canada and at Summerland Varieties Corp.

READ MORE: ‘Everybody’s drowning right now’: B.C. fruit industry struggling

Pinder Dhaliwal, BCFGA president, said the funds will help Canada capture premium markets in Asia and Europe.

“This announcement also paves the way for all Canadian producers to have the best practices for new varieties of apples and cherries,” said Dhaliwal.

“This project is truly a large collaboration of many like-minded people working together to develop some of the best apples in the world and will be giving new varieties the best chance in the market place. This research will help us create income and wealth and will lead us to a successful tree fruit industry.”

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