“B.C. apple growers are an important part of our province’s food security and economy,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “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, Fairview Orchards Ltd. “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.”
Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee, said: “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. 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.”
The Tree Fruit Industry Stabilization Plan was developed jointly with industry and is part of the Province’s larger plan of supporting B.C. growers.
- The recommendations in the stabilization plan were developed from extensive feedback received during 30 consultation sessions from more than 165 people representing all aspects of the industry, including producers, packers, marketers, retailers, researchers and government.
- The funding will support the tree-fruit sector until spring 2024.
- The tree-fruit industry in B.C. has approximately 400 commercial growers who farm approximately 15,000 acres (6,070 hectares) of apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums.