Training, extension services, pest management and marketing received funding as the province allocated a further $2.5 million in support of the tree fruit sector, November 17.
With the hard work of stabilizing the province’s tree fruit sector beginning in earnest, the province hopes a new certificate program at Okanagan College will give growers the training they need to be successful. It’s also establishing an extension service that will help 250 tree fruit and grape growers annually improve fruit quality, increase production and enhance their farm businesses.
“We are working directly with the industry, family farms and businesses to ensure they succeed into the future, and putting BC’s apple growers in the best position to increase their efficiency, production and profitability,” BC agriculture minister Lana Popham said in a statement.
A portion of the funds will also flow to the long-running Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program, which earlier this year benefitted from a $375,000 investment in the BC Decision Aid System, as well as marketing initiatives.
The ministry did not provide a breakdown of how the new funds, which run through March 31, 2024, would be allocated.
However, ministry staff told Country Life in BC that the funding would support two new extension workers dedicated to extension services in the sector. A contractor is also being hired to conduct domestic market research for a price not to exceed $50,000 that will support a five to 10-year market development strategy and a two to three-year marketing and sales plan.
The new certificate program at Okanagan College could launch next fall.
“Our teams are moving forward to design the program and get it implemented,” said Kevin Parnell, associate director, college relations. “We’re excited to begin offering this.”