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CWB backs organic sector development

Eight new research and knowledge-sharing projects on organic grain production will get a financial boost from the Canadian Wheat Board.

Western Canada’s single-desk wheat and barley marketing agency on Wednesday announced a new round of funding worth $200,000 in 2009 through its Organic Sector Market Development Initiative (OSMDI).

Hailing the CWB’s funding pledges, Ralph Martin, director of the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, said in the board’s release that to keep pace with consumer demand, Canada needs more research to address agronomic challenges and increase organic production.

“When the federal government’s new Canadian Organic Regime is implemented in June 2009, there is bound to be even more interest in organics,” Martin said. “Funds like the OSMDI will help ensure that farmers have the knowledge they need to successfully and sustainably develop their organic farm enterprises.”

The Canada Organic Regime is meant to define specific criteria for food producers, manufacturers and processors to make organic claims in Canada.

As well, the board noted in its release, many OSMDI funding recipients value CWB support because the money can be used to secure matching funding from government. Martin Entz of the University of Manitoba said in the CWB’s release that the board’s investment will allow him to broaden his research and hire more students interested in organics. This in turn is expected to help train future organic researchers, farmers and extension workers.

Among the approved projects are farmer workshops on making the transition to organic production, to be conducted by Canadian Organic Growers using $75,000 over three years from the OSMDI.

Research at the University of Manitoba to evaluate farm-income potential in grazing green manures will get $72,000 over three years from the fund.

Testing of spring wheat breeding lines, selected under organic crop conditions, will be conducted at the University of Saskatchewan using $45,000 in OSMDI funding over the next two years, the CWB added.

Other funding recipients include:

  • the Western Applied Research Corp., for development of a specialized cultivator shovel for weed-control through precision tillage;
  • the University of Saskatchewan, for use of plant root simulator probes to measure soil mineralization in organic rotations;
  • the Scotts Co., for evaluation of microbial bio-herbicide for broadleaf weed control; and
  • Going Organic Alberta, for resources for an organic conference focused on agronomics.

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