by SUSAN MANN
The Ontario Apple Growers is one of three horticultural groups to receive federal government funding this week for projects designed to tackle what growers have identified as obstacles to higher productivity.
Three groups -- Ontario Apple Growers, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and Seeds of Diversity Canada -- in total received more than $500,000 from the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation program. St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra, on behalf of federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, made the announcement at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable convention in Niagara Falls on Thursday.
The money for the apple growers, $137,000, will be used to fund a study to better understand evolving consumer preferences so farmers can market their produce more effectively.
Apple Growers chair Brian Gilroy says they see “this as an important step to expand provincial acreage, diversity production and improve our reaction time in meeting the demands for delicious locally grown varieties.”
Gilroy adds that “it’s certainly not a silver bullet but it’s an important thing to be looking at because we have some fairly unique climatic regions in Southern Ontario.”
The fruit and vegetable growers association received $308,000 to fund crop genetic technology work. Seeds of Diversity received $133,000 to help farmers control seed-borne diseases on tomato farms through ultra-violet radiation, replacing treatments that have been either too expensive or result in enormous seed losses.
The Canadian Agricultural Adaptation program is a five-year, $163 million program, from 2009 to 2014, that helps the Canadian farming sector adapt and remain competitive. BF