The Government of Canada is investing in cutting-edge research to grow market opportunities and maintain a bright future for the Canadian organic industry.
An investment of $6.5 million will bring together scientific expertise from academia, industry and government to develop more efficient and profitable processes for organic farmers, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and MP Scott Armstrong (Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley) announced yesterday.
Organic demand increasing
"Demand for organic products is growing and this Government wants to help our hardworking Canadian farmers capture as much of this market as possible," said Minister Ritz. "By creating this all-star team, we can maximize the investment and focus Canada's organic expertise on the research that shows the most promise in delivering a profitable, competitive edge to farmers."
The Organic Federation of Canada will manage this investment to address the priorities of organic producers. The research will focus on soil fertility, grain cropping, greenhouse production and food processing. This cluster will also help develop a recognizable, high-quality brand to help establish Canada as a leader in organic production and help farmers expand their businesses.
"The Organic Science Cluster project, funded by the Government of Canada, is a major event in the development of this relatively new but rapidly growing segment of Canadian agriculture - organic food," said Ted Zettel, president of the Organic Federation of Canada. "The Organic Federation of Canada congratulates Minister Ritz and his staff on the foresight and leadership they are providing, in responding to new market demands with this exciting research project."
Benefit farmers – organic and conventional
"The Government of Canada knows the value of investing in a sector that gives so much to Canadian families and our economy," said MP Armstrong. "This investment will benefit organic farmers, as well as conventional farmers here in Nova Scotia and across Canada, who will have access to research results that could improve their cost effectiveness and environmental management."
In partnership with the OFC, the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC) was instrumental in raising an industry contribution of $2.2 million for this project.
"In this challenging period of declining oil supplies, increasing climate change and economic shifts, research results in organic agriculture offer options for all farmers and consumers," said Dr. Ralph Martin, Founding Director of the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada. "As Canadian consumers look for more organic products, this research will help Canadian farmers to benefit from this opportunity."
Organic sector growing
The Canadian organic sector has grown considerably in the last 10-15 years. Retail sales of organic food products in Canada were valued at over $2 billion in 2008.
The Organic Cluster is delivered by the Growing Forward framework under the Agri-Innovations program, a $158 million five-year program announced to support industry-led science and technology projects.
For more information on Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's programs visit www.agr.gc.ca