Country Life in BC

March 13, 2019

Horticulture projects receive funding

by PETER MITHAM

Ottawa has announced millions of dollars in funding for horticulture research at events on both sides of the country.

On March 11, federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced up to $4.2 million in funding for the BC Fruit Growers Association. The cash will support the development of new apple and cherry cultivars. The funding for BCFGA comes under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Agri-Science Program and will support trials of potential new varieties in BC, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Fruit breeding takes place at the federal government’s Summerland Research and Development Centre under Amrit Singh. BCFGA is receiving the federal funding because new varieties are managed by Summerland Varieties Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of the association.

The support for apple and cherry development follows the announcement on March 6 of up to $11.5 million in support of projects related to pest and disease management, post-harvest storage and handling of apples, berries, field vegetables, potatoes and greenhouse crops.

The funding was announced in Halifax at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Horticulture Council, which leads the national horticulture cluster. It also flows from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP). Additional funding from industry will boost the investment to $18 million.

The funding will support sustainable practices to reduce the sector’s environmental footprint. It will also support the development of new crop varieties to ensure the sector’s competitiveness and profitability.

While the funding represents an investment in research of more than $22 million from government and industry, BC berry growers have yet to receive word on funding for their own breeding projects under the CAP.

The Lower Mainland Horticultural Improvement Association took over coordination of the berry breeding program from the federal government in 2013.

“We have been running a bare-bones program the past year using our own resources,” berry grower David Mutz told LMHIA members during their annual meeting at the Pacific Ag Show less than two months ago.

LMHIA had applied for $2.5 million in federal and provincial funding to cover 2018-2022.