Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture, announced in July an investment of up to $1.4 million for Potatoes New Brunswick to lead a national research effort to help improve potato yields and the export competitiveness of Canadian french fries.
This investment will enable Potatoes New Brunswick to work with other industry partners, Agriculture Canada scientists and universities to identify factors that limit potato yields, said a release from Agriculture Canada. On-farm experiments will help overcome these limitations and recommend new tools and technologies to potato farmers across the country.
Potatoes are the country’s most widely farmed and consumed vegetable, representing over 30 per cent of all Canadian vegetables produced, the release said. The french fry sector buys almost half of Canadian potato production, generating over $708 million in export sales and employing 4,000 Canadians.
Potatoes New Brunswick will work with a number of key national partners, including the P.E.I. Potato Board, McCain Foods Ltd., the Manitoba Horticulture Productivity Enhancement Centre, Dalhousie University, the University of Manitoba and the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique in Quebec City.
This investment is being made through Agriculture and AgriFood Canada’s AgriInnovation Program, a five-year, up to $698 million program under the Growing Forward 2 policy framework.
Potatoes New Brunswick is a non-profit, producer driven organization incorporated in 2006 that aims to enhance the competitiveness of the province’s potato sector.
“Potatoes are a staple on family kitchen tables across Canada and around the world, and are a key driver of our economic growth,” Ritz said. “This research partnership will build future growth by giving processors access to more of the quality Canadian potatoes that give their fries a world class reputation.”
“The stakes for processing potatoes in Canada have never been higher,” said Shawn Paget, chair of Potatoes New Brunswick. “This funding will allow Canadian potato producers to expedite the process and introduce new technology and best management practices to secure and develop export markets. A national approach allows our industry to pool resources and make a concentrated effort to improve yields, secure grower profitability and increase competitiveness.”