Investments will drive greater industry innovation, resilience and economic growth
WOODSTOCK – The Ontario government is supporting greenhouse growers by investing over $3.6 million in 12 innovative projects to help develop new technologies, recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and enhance competitiveness and innovation. Funding is being provided through the Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative (GCII).
Rick Nicholls, Member of Provincial Parliament for Chatham-Kent-Leamington, on behalf of Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, made the announcement today.
“During these exceptional times, Ontario’s greenhouse operations have played a critical role in making sure families across the province can continue to put food on their tables all year long,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “That’s why we are investing in projects that will help greenhouse businesses improve productivity and adopt new technologies to address labour challenges and better position greenhouses to recover from COVID-19 faster.”
“Ontario is rapidly expanding, and so will our need for fresh local produce,” said Rick Nicholls the MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington. “This funding to expand, support, and innovate our greenhouses in Ontario will benefit everyone in the long run,” said Rick Nicholls, Member of Provincial Parliament for Chatham-Kent-Leamington.
Projects are designed to focus on key areas, identified by the sector, to help drive greater industry innovation, resilience and economic growth, they include:
Allegro Acres Inc. is receiving $999,345 to test, on a commercial scale, the impact of up to 24 hours continuous light of low intensity lighting on a commercial scale, which will reduce electricity consumption during peak hours and improve energy efficiency in greenhouse vegetable production.
Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers is receiving $149,634 to develop a cost-effective anti-viral coating technology to treat tools and surfaces to reduce the spread of plant and human viruses in greenhouses, including COVID-19. This technology will help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and enhance biosecurity.
Great Lakes Greenhouses Inc is receiving $547,720 to use artificial intelligence to develop an autonomous grower technology that will enhance environmental sustainability, accelerate transition to year-round production, support crop diversification and improve long-term resiliency and competitiv eness of the sector. The technology will allow greenhouse operators to remotely grow cucumbers and eggplant crops, reducing in-person contact and allowing them to manage more sites remotely.
Flowers Canada is receiving $89,013 to help the greenhouse sector optimize dehumidification systems to achieve energy recovery savings and improve successful plant production at greenhouse floriculture operations.
“The Ontario Greenhouse Alliance thanks the Ontario government and Minister Hardeman for today’s GCII announcement. Our growers take great pride in their responsibility to produce safe, sustainable local products and the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for resilient local agriculture production that puts the health and well-being of employees and our farm families first. Today’s announcement advances our ability to do that,” said Jan VanderHout, President of the Ontario Greenhouse Alliance. “The GCII program further demonstrates a continuing partnership between Ontario’s greenhouse farms and the government of Ontario that recognizes the sector’s significant potential to innovate, grow and support the well-being of all Ontarians across the province.”
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs estimates that approximately 85,000 direct jobs and $3.4 billion direct GDP can be attributed to Ontario’s greenhouse vegetable and floriculture and nursery industry value chain including farm, processing and retail in 2019.
Other support to assist the agri-food sector in meeting challenges related to the COVID-10 outbreak includes:
creation of the $26.6 million Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program;
a commitment of $25.5 million to help minimize COVID 19 exposure risks in the workplace and support the province’s food supply chain through the Agri-food Prevention and Control Innovation Program; and,
a recent investment of an additional $50 million into the Risk Management Program, one year earlier than originally promised.
The Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative (GCII) is a cost-share program administered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC). The streamlined initiative targets projects in three categories: Sector biosecurity, Environmental stewardship and Production and Market Development.
Ontario’s greenhouse sector continues to expand at an annual rate of four to five per cent, with Ontario’s 865 greenhouses making up roughly 3,740 acres across the province.