The Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick celebrated its 100th birthday Aug. 8. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and MP Mike Allen (Tobiqueâ€“Mactaquac) were on hand for the centennial celebrations and to announce support for two innovative potato research projects.
© (Photo: Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada)
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz accompanied by New Brunswick MP Mike Allen took part in a tree planting ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, NB Aug. 8. The minister announced over $250,000 in investments for the potato sector.
The Canadian Horticulture Council will receive nearly $67,000 to consult with stakeholders and develop a Canadian potato strategy to help the industry identify short and long-term research priorities. The strategy will focus on research, innovation, sustainability and global competitiveness.
BioAtlantech will benefit from $185,000 in research activities to study the effectiveness of using mineral oils to prevent the spread of the harmful Potato Virus Y in seed crops. Researchers will look to better understand how mineral oils inhibit transmission in order to establish best practices recommendations.
"These investments will benefit the potato industry, which is vital to the growth and future prosperity of our economy," Ritz said. "As we celebrate 100 years of agricultural research here at the Potato Research Centre, this targeted investment in research and innovation will ensure that the government and industry continue to build strong, value-added opportunities for farmers here in Atlantic Canada and across Canada."
"I am honoured to be here to celebrate this exciting milestone for the Potato Research Centre, which has played an important role in the well-being of the potato industry and our local economy," Allen stated. "Not only is the centre home to Canadaâ€™s leading potato breeding program, but the researchers here continue to look at new and innovative uses for the potato in non-food products, which will create new opportunities for the industry."
Potatoes New Brunswick Chair Joe Brennan said, "We are pleased to see these types of projects getting support. Projects that will result in real commercial benefit and assist our farmers produce better quality seed potatoes for both domestic and export markets.
"The need for focused research and strategic innovation that moves discoveries out to the farm has never been greater as we struggle to be competitive in a â€˜globalâ€™ marketplace."
The potato industry is an important contributor to Canadaâ€™s economy, providing thousands of jobs across the country and generating over $1 billion in farm gate receipts annually. The potato is also an important crop that is helping meet demands of the growing world population, with 40 per cent of potato production in this country harvested in Atlantic Canada.
The federal investments are from the Agricultural Innovation Program, part of Canadaâ€™s Economic Action Plan 2011.