Sask. pledges seven figures to wheat research

The Saskatchewan government has pledged $10 million over five years in new funding for development work on better, hardier wheats.

The new support, to flow through the province’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF), is meant to "accelerate" development of new varieties and help improve "yield, quality and tolerance to disease and extreme weather conditions."

The province said its funding is for a crop that had become "less profitable for producers to grow" in recent years compared to canola or pulses.

Rising demand for food worldwide makes it "crucial that new investments be made in wheat research," the province said.

"Early varieties like Marquis made farming worthwhile in all but the most inhospitable parts of the Prairies. It allowed the Prairies to become the breadbasket of the British Empire for the next 100 years," Premier Brad Wall said in announcing the funds Thursday in Saskatoon.

"It’s time to recapture that leadership, so Saskatchewan can help feed a hungry planet."

The wheat research money will be used to partner with both public and private research organizations, the province said.

The ADF is otherwise funded for about $10 million annually, provided on a competitive basis to researchers in public and private R+D. Letters of intent proposing projects for ADF funding must be submitted by April 15 each year.

Eligible uses of ADF cash include professional or technical salaries and fees, equipment rentals, materials, supplies, project travel and workshop or seminar costs. Capital expenses, such as land or equipment purchases, are not eligible.

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