Developing national standards that will help Canadian-grown apples take a bigger bite out of the marketplace is the aim of a new project that received financial backing from the Canadian government this week.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lyle Vanclief told members of the Canadian Horticultural Council at their annual meeting that the federal government will contribute $151,500 (€108,622) towards the development ofnational Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) standards and protocols. The balance of the $301,500 project will be funded by industry and the World Wildlife Fund.
"This measure will increase the competitiveness of Canadian-producedapples," Vanclief said. "By using enhanced national Integrated FruitProduction techniques, Canada's 2,500 commercial apple farmers will be amodel for other fruit sectors. The result will be more Canadians eatingCanadian fruit, and more competitive Canadian fruit in world markets."
The IFP initative will set out voluntary standards for soil management, irrigation, integrated pest management practices, harvesting, grower education and environmental farm practices. The national standardswill be customised for each of Canada's apple-growing regions - BritishColumbia, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes - and will include lists,specific to each province, of prohibited, restricted and unrestrictedpesticides.
Also included in the programme is the development of "scorecards"for the implementation of the guidelines, as well as a voluntary monitoringand auditing programme.
"Our goal is for Canada to be the world leader in food safety, innovation and environmentally-responsible production," said Vanclief.
CARD, a federal initiative created in 1995, is a $60 million-a-year programme aimed at promoting long-term growth, employment and competitiveness in Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector. In the past five years, CARD hasallocated $2.8 million to the Canadian Horticultural Council to carry outprojects that include pesticides, food safety initiatives, partners inquality and the establishment of a dispute resolution corporation.