Federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz was on hand at Agri-Trade at Red Deer, Alta., today to announce over $25 million in funding support for the the National Wheat Improvement Project (NWIP). The Government of Canada, along with the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) and the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance (CFCRA) have partnered on what will be known as the Wheat Cluster, a research initiative geared towards “securing the success of wheat breeding across Canada for the next five years.”
The NWIP, also known as the Wheat Cluster, is part of the Federal Growing Forward 2’s Agri-Science Cluster program.
“The Alberta Wheat Commission has chosen the Wheat Cluster as one of its first investments because Alberta’s producers recognize the importance of having strong varieties, alongside excellent agronomics,” says Kent Erickson, Chairman of the AWC. “To have a sustainable and competitive wheat industry, breeding efforts, especially those at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, must continue to receive the funding necessary to produce consistently reliable varieties.”
The AWC, WGRF, and CFCRA in Eastern Canada make up the industry or producer investment of $12.7 million, combined with the Government of Canada’s investment of $12.5 million.
“This joint investment showcases how much public and private entities, including producer funded organizations can benefit from a fund-matching program,” adds Erickson. “This is an excellent example of how producer organizations can leverage check-off dollars to achieve maximum return on their research investments.”
The Wheat Cluster includes 50 research projects aimed at producing varieties that are high quality, high yielding and with improved disease resistance.This new investment also guarantees sustained funding to federal and university programs, including university activities that will ensure knowledge transfer to the next generation of skilled breeders who in turn will help Canada continue to advance in the future.