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Province flogging flax production, processing

A field of flax near Elgin, Manitoba.

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A field of flax near Elgin, Manitoba. (JOE BRYKSA / FREE PRESS FILES)

The Manitoba government is supporting the development of joint ventures in Europe that will see increased flax production and fibre processing in Manitoba, Premier Greg Selinger said.

"Manitoba is a major flax production centre and we are looking ahead to new markets including composites," Selinger said in a statement while on a trip to France. "These agreements with partners in Normandy will help our province continue to be at the forefront of the industry."

EcoTechnilin, a U.K.-based company, signed an agreement this week with Manitoba-based Erosion Control Blanket to market its needle-punched, non-woven mats manufactured in a Normandy facility.

"In the next several years, we are expecting $2 million sales of this green biomaterials," said Mark Myrowich, owner, Erosion Control Blanket. "There is tremendous opportunity and potential in this field. We anticipate building a new matting facility in Manitoba as sales continue to grow."

The premier also said that Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) in Winnipeg is developing FibreCity, a unique facility in Canada to evaluate and grade natural fibres for biomaterial applications. The premier noted in particular the work of Sean McKay, executive director of CIC, for his leadership in bringing together these new partnerships.

The premier made the announcement at the Canadian Ambassador to France's residence in a speech to a Manitoba delegation comprised of business representatives and members of Manitoba's arts, culture and post-secondary education communities. Manitoba is the first province to send a delegation to France since the signing of the Canada-France Enhanced Cooperation Agenda.

Premier Selinger also met yesterday with Marc Depestele, president of Groupe Depetestele, a major fibre flax processor based in Lower Normandy. Recently, the company has been investigating the use of flax as technical fibres in composite applications to offer renewable alternatives to fibre glass.

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