The governments of Canada and British Columbia are investing in the B.C. strawberry, blueberry and raspberry industries to help market competitiveness in berry production through innovative genetics and practices in the province.
The Lower Mainland Horticulture Improvement Association is set to receive $200,000 in annual funding a year for the next five years to improve berry genetics.
Results from the research will support a plant breeding program that produces superior berry varieties that are suited to the local climate. The program is expected to lead to improved crops, higher fruit quality and increased pest and disease resistance.
The berry plant breeding program is supported by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector.
“Our Government is committed to ensuring our berry producers have the tools they need to succeed and be competitive. This investment into berry plant breeding will give B.C. growers the best berry varieties suited to the local climate, helping them to meet growing consumer demand and create good middle class jobs,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
There are over 600 blueberry growers, 100 raspberry growers and 50 strawberry growers in B.C. In 2017, B.C. growers harvested: $136 million of blueberries; $20 million of raspberries; and $6.4 million of strawberries.
“The B.C. berry industry has identified plant breeding as the single most important research priority to maintain competitiveness in the global market place. We are pleased that the Province recognizes the importance of developing new varieties as this partnership will support our industry’s long-term viability,” said Sukh Kahlon, president, B.C. Raspberry Growers’ Association.