Board includes Vernon resident
Kelowna orchardist Kirpal Boparai has been elected to head up the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association, following in the footsteps of Joe Sardinha, who did not run for re-election.
Elected vice-president was Jeet Dukhia of Vernon, a newcomer to the executive of the 123-year-old growers’ lobby group, which held its annual general meeting in Kelowna Friday.
Boparai defeated Kelowna orchardist Fred Steele, who was vice-president of the group. The pair have squared off for the vice-president post in the past.
Boparai has served on the executive, from 2008 to 2012, and he owns 25 acres in East Kelowna and leases 45 further acres. Most of that is in apples, with 10 acres in cherries.
His focus will be on getting money to growers, he said, because, “People are hurting.”
The BCFGA was lacking in strong leadership and a change was in order, he said.
Dukhia said he has been farming for 37 years on three lots in the Vernon area, with 33 acres in apples and two in cherries.
He agreed with Boparai that the organization’s focus should be on Victoria and Ottawa to get money for growers.
“We’re tied to the land, yet there are no longer the income insurance programs that were part of the marriage when the Agricultural Land Reserve was brought in. The marriage is broken,” he commented.
“We don’t want handouts,” he added. “Just a mechanism in place so we meet the costs of production in the bad years. We’ll pay into it in the good years.”
He defeated incumbent director Denise MacDonald for vice-president, after Kelowna grower Amarjit Lalli withdrew his name. Fred Steele was nominated, but declined.
Re-elected were Peter Simonsen, Nirmal Dhaliwal, Denise MacDonald of Summerland, Madeleine van Roechoudt of Lake Country.
Also elected was Jora Dhaliwal.