Software will help Coral Beach Farms sort cherries

Coral Beach Farms is among the company’s receiving support from governments to help it deal with advances in technology.

A Lake Country business is among the company’s receiving support from the governments of Canada and British Columbia to help the tree fruit industry deal with advances in technology.

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan and B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick, the MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country, made the announcement last week.

Coral Beach Farms in Lake Country will receive more than $35,000 in funding for an innovative software program that will automate the sorting of stemless cherries.

The overall purpose of the project is to add value and reduce labour costs by introducing new technologies not currently in use in the B.C. tree fruit industry.

The automatic sorting of cherries with and without stems will help the sector take advantage of higher-value export markets that pay a premium for stemmed cherries, leading to increased profitability for farmers.

“This new technology enables us to target specific packs of cherries to specific markets in a very cost effective manner,” said Coral Beach Farms president David Geen. “We are appreciative of the support provided through the Agriflex program, which allows us to better serve our customers and compete in global markets.”

Four other projects will also receive funds totalling more than $66,000.

The Jind Fruit Company will receive just over $26,000 for a project to improve cold-storage air quality and conditions at a packing house in Osoyoos.

The Okanagan Kootenay Cherry Growers’ Association will receive more than $21,000 for two spotted wing drosophila larvae management projects.

The B.C. Fruit Growers Association Research and Development Test Orchard is receiving $19,200 for the creation of quality standards that all cherry-packing organizations can use for their domestic and export markets.

“The B.C. government has been working with industry to focus on innovation and technology as we look at ways to expand their product line and markets,” said Letnick.

“The investment of more than $200,000 for these six projects will enhance both our province’s tree fruit operations and ensure the agrifoods industry continues to be an integral part of British Columbia’s economy.”

In 2010, the governments of Canada and B.C. together contributed $5 million to the Tree Fruit Market and Infrastructure Initiative.

The federal portion of this investment is made through the Agricultural Flexibility Fund (AgriFlex), part of the Economic Action Plan, a five-year (2009 to 2014) program created to help reduce production costs, improve environmental sustainability, promote innovation, and respond to emerging opportunities and market challenges for the sector.

“B.C. has a strong reputation around the world for producing top-quality tree fruits, such as apples and cherries,” said Cannan.

“These projects and leading-edge technologies will increase profitability and ensure that the region’s producers remain industry leaders on the domestic and international stage.”

For more information on the B.C. Tree Fruit Market and Infrastructure Innovation Initiative, visit the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture’s website at www.gov.bc.ca/agri/ or contact the ministry at AGR.Minister@gov.bc.ca.

As well, visit the Agriculture Flexibility Fund at www.agr.gc.ca/agriflexibility for more information.