The National Sunflower Association of Canada will receive $1.8 million to develop new seed varieties and boost sunflower acreage in Western Canada, Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire announced this week.
The federal government is providing $1.2 million, while the province will contribute $320,000. The remainder of the funds will be made up of cash and in-kind donations.
As Manitoba produces about 90 per cent of Canada’s total sunflower crop, it is expected this funding will have a significant impact on the southwest corner of the province.
“It’s huge, that’s why I was so pleased to be able to do this on behalf of (Agriculture) Minister Ritz,” Maguire said. “We made the announcement to put this money in here because half the sunflowers in Canada are virtually grown in our constituency.”
Manitoba producers planted approximately 150,000 to 200,000 acres of sunflowers a year, according to the province, harvesting approximately 250 million pounds of sunflower seed.
The funding will support the development of adaptable, disease-resistant and herbicide-tolerant, confection sunflower hybrids that meet the needs of international markets and demands from growers. The varieties will be adaptable to growing conditions on the Prairies, adding an additional cash crop to field rotations.
“It’s a really important issue to get new sunflower seed varieties in our area,” Maguire said.
“That puts more money in the jeans of these farmers, particularly here, by about $80 million … is the expected revenue increase, more than double what’s presently out there.”
NSAC president Gregg Fotheringham said the sunflower industry has the potential to increase domestic and international exports with new seed varieties, particularly long-type confectionary sunflowers.
“This investment will help our producers grow new sunflower seed varieties while allowing them to capture new market opportunities, increase their bottom dollar and strengthen the sunflower industry of Canada,” Fotheringham said.
» Brandon Sun
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 27, 2014