November 22, 2022 By Government of British Columbia
The B.C. government is providing support in four strategic areas to help B.C.’s tree-fruit industry continue to supply locally produced fruit to British Columbians while supporting the economy in the Okanagan.
“B.C. apple growers are an important part of our province’s food security and economy,” said Lana Popham, minister of agriculture and food, in a press release. “We are working directly with the industry, family farms and businesses to ensure they succeed into the future, and putting B.C.’s apple growers in the best position to increase their efficiency, production and profitability.”
Over two years, $2.5 million will support crop health, fruit production, apple marketing and skills training. The actions follow recommendations in the Tree Fruit Industry Stabilization Plan and requests from the tree-fruit industry. The funding includes:
- establishing a tree-fruit extension program that will provide on-farm support to an estimated 250 growers each year to support improved fruit quality, increased production and farm business operations;
- supporting the Okanagan Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program to reduce the risk of known fruit pests, and improving the quality and quantity of apple and cherry harvests;
- working with the tree-fruit industry on a domestic and international marketing strategy for B.C. apples, highlighting key market opportunities, consumer preferences, market pricing and logistics; and
- supporting Okanagan College in developing a tree fruit-specific certificate course to increase industry capacity and help meet labour needs.
“Having experts available to growers as a resource for horticultural advice is a huge plus for growers with a focus on high-value apples,” said Rick Machial of Fairview Orchards Ltd. in a press release. “The extension program can help people transition their business models from producing quantity to producing quality, which offers a much better financial return, and in my view, is one key element to the stability of our industry.”
“Tree-fruit production is a great source of pride here in the Okanagan. Coming from a farming family, I know how hard farmers work and how difficult these past few years have been on them,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “That’s why our government is working hard to strengthen the industry to ensure its longevity. This funding will support the industry as it works toward its goals of increased production, competition and skills training for a new generation of growers.”
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