August 13, 2019 5:55 pm
Updated: August 13, 2019 6:45 pm

B.C. Cherry Association gets federal funding boost to expand export programs

The federal government is giving the BC Cherry Association $241,000 to help expand markets.

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British Columbia’s cherry market received a financial boost on Tuesday from the federal government.

In Kelowna, Attorney General David Lametti announced “a $241,000 investment” for the B.C. Cherry Association. Lametti was filling in for Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau.

The funding will be matched by growers, creating a $482,000 bankroll that will focus on expanding export programs.

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“This is investment will help the B.C. Cherry Association grow exports of Canadian fresh cherries by expanding into new markets and strengthening those that already exist,” said Lametti.

He added that “96 per cent of Canadian farm sales come from right here in British Columbia.”

The investment was made under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s agricultural marketing program.

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Sukhpaul Bal of Hillcrest Farms, which hosted the announcement, says accessing global markets is of paramount importance for growers. Bal is also the president of the B.C. Cherry Association.

“In order to make a viable business,” said Bal, “we have to look to who is going to pay the most or fair amount that makes this business viable.”

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That viability, according to Lametti, includes “market research, trade-show exhibits (and) targeting high-value markets and growing markets,” such as the U.S., China and Japan.

“The next one up is Korea,” added David Geen of Jealous Fruits, “which we are working on. It could be a very lucrative market as well.”

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As part of the funding, the B.C. Cherry Association will also implement pest management protocols for the U.S., Japan, China and South Korea, and will also design and produce export labels to meet market-specific requirements.

“A significant portion of the Canadian cherry business involves export,” said Bal. “The B.C. Cherry Association has benefited from federal [agricultural marketing program] funding for our activities for the past seven years.

“This partnership with the federal government has been critical in paving the way for the BC Cherry Association to help expand world markets for cherries by promoting our industry abroad, and to coordinate export programs for existing world markets.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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