Farmers pick up project funds

Several projects are now underway in the Okanagan’s tree fruit industry, including promotional activities, pest control and new packing technology.

Several projects are now underway in the Okanagan’s tree fruit industry, including promotional activities, pest control and new packing technology.

A total of $5 million from the federal and provincial governments will be spent by the industry in the next four years on projects that will result in greener business and better market access.

Joe Sardinha, B.C. Fruit Growers Association president, said the money can be attributed to efforts to gain public support by setting up booths at farmers’ markets across the province to bring attention to the low returns the industry is suffering under.

“The public told MLAs there should be more support for farmers.”

Sardinha said B.C. Tree Fruits has already received some of the funds for promotional work other than advertising, while the Sterile Insect Release program received $75,000 toward a $400,000 pilot program.

More projects will get underway in the coming year, including some innovation in packing equipment or new technology such as an electronic defect sorter, said Sardinha.

As well there could be some funds allotted to a new cooling process for fruit and to new marketing initiatives.

The money is intended to permit the tree fruit industry to take advantage of new technology and to strengthen its position in the global market.

“We want to support the trailblazers out there who are ready to put new technologies to the test and try out new markets and products,” said Ben Stewart, B.C. agriculture minister.