Local Cherry GrowersLocal cherry growers gather to hear local MP Ron Cannan (fourth from right), BCFGA president Jeet Dukhia, MP Dan Albas and Trade Minister Peter Van Loan announce an investment into apple and cherry research.
Federal Trade Minister Peter Van Loan, flanked by local politicians, was in Kelowna in early July to announce funds for research and development in the apple and sweet cherry industry. Those two crops make up 80% of farm gate value for Canadian tree fruits.
Minister Van Loan said, “I am pleased to announce that we are investing up to $3.2 million in Growing Forward’s agro-innovation program for the purpose of developing new apple and sweet cherry varieties to better meet market needs.”
While Van Loan specifically referenced new apple and cherry varieties, along with disease and pest management, local MP Ron Cannan said this wouldn’t be a top-down process. Cannan said, “The money is being left open to the growers and [their] organizations to decide. It’s the local groups who know the best way to use the money.”
President Jeet Dukhia of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association gave an example of the importance of this type of research. Citing the recent announcement of getting cherries into the Chinese market, expected to be worth $20 million before the end of the decade, Dukhia said Canadians have developed late ripening varieties. This provides a season when the Americans can’t grow and will give a great opportunity for Canadians to sell their fruit into a wide open Chinese market. Thanking the federal government for this $3.2 million investment, Dukhia said, “We will use that money to be competitive in the world and show our competitiveness to the southeast Asian market.”