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Canada’s Organic Sector receives $6.5 million for research in announcement of Canada’s Organic Science Cluster
Announcement of Canada's Organic Science Cluster (from left to right) NSAC Co-President, Dr. Bernie MacDonald; OACC Founding Director, Dr. Ralph Martin; Nova Scotia MP for Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Scott Armstrong; Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Gerry Ritz; and President of the Organic Federation of Canada, Ted Zettel.
Canadians can look forward to eating more home-grown organic foods in the coming years, with today’s announcement of Government of Canada funding of $6.5 million, matched by $2.2 million in industry funding, to establish Canada’s Organic Science Cluster. The funding, awarded through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Growing Forward Program, is meant to support growth in the organic sector by strengthening the science behind organic agriculture in Canada. Although the organic sector is currently experiencing notable growth, expanding at a rate of 15-20% per year, approximately 80% of organic food consumed in Canada is imported. The Organic Science Cluster aims to help Canadian organic farmers capture more of this $2 billion domestic market while also improving their ability to compete on a global scale.
The Organic Science Cluster is a collaborative effort led jointly by the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC) at Nova Scotia Agricultural College and the Organic Federation of Canada. The Organic Science Cluster, which will run until March 2013, spans the country with activities in nine provinces, engaging all major agricultural universities in Canada and enlisting the collaboration of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists. Twenty industry partners, representing many aspects of the organic sector across the country, are expected to contribute $2.2 million in matching funds to support research activities. Those involved in the Organic Science Cluster include the longest standing and leading scientists in organic agriculture, who will be working alongside other scientists who are leaders in their respective disciplines.
With 30 research activities including over 80 lead and collaborating scientists, the Organic Science Cluster will develop the science that underpins the ability of Canada’s organic industry to increase the quality and quantity of products produced, while also characterizing and promoting the aspects of organic production that are important to Canadian consumers. Scientists will set the groundwork for significant improvements in phosphorus use efficiency in organic crop production, lead organic into an era of low-till production without herbicides, provide a landmark breakthrough in energy efficient organic greenhouse production, develop effective systems for management of organic horticultural crops, characterize the contribution of organic production to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, establish benchmarks for animal health and welfare in dairying, and address barriers in high value fruit production.
As Canadians place renewed emphasis on the safety and sustainability of the food system, the Organic Science Cluster will serve to strengthen the capacity and market for domestic organic production while supporting ecologically sound farming practices. So, as you venture into your local supermarket, fruit stand or farmers markets over the coming years, keep a watchful eye for an increasing number of Canadian organic products on the shelves.
For information about Canada’s Organic Science Cluster, please visit OACC's Organic Science Cluster page.
See the video of the announcement.
© 2012, Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC)