Feds back first-in-Canada organic hothouse radishes

organic radishes (JAGradishes.com)

By Dave Bedard
Glacier FarmMedia staff

A Quebec vegetable grower will be spotted over $625,000 toward what’s billed as a first-in-Canada plan to grow organic radishes year-round.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau on Aug. 13 announced $625,419 in repayable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) funding through the AgriInnovate program for Les Jardins A. Guerin et Fils, Inc. (JAG).

JAG is a family-run operation producing radishes as well as carrots and onions at Sherrington, about 50 km south of Montreal. Its radishes have been grown under organic certification since November 2018.

The company today is estimated to produce 47 per cent of Quebec-grown radishes, or about 29 per cent of Canadian-grown radishes.

JAG plans to put the loan toward “optimizing growing techniques and performing market testing as they implement a new model for the year-round production of organic, greenhouse-grown radishes.”

“Domestic availability of locally grown, organic radishes, year-round, will reduce the need for imports by providing a new product offering for the Canadian agri-food sector, and create new export opportunities,” the government said in its release.

Once complete, the JAG project is expected to generate $1.3 million in revenue, with the production of 460,000 pallets.

That production, the government added, is expected to help offset Canada’s imports of radishes from Mexico and southern California, currently valued at about $18.6 million.

The AgriInnovate loan is expected to “accelerate the development of a brand new greenhouse production in Canada,” JAG production manager Pascal Guerin said in the Aug. 13 release.

“This innovative organic radish production project will add a new local product to the limited range of products available during the winter season, while responding to growing consumer demand for access to fresh, high-quality (physical and taste) and pesticide-free products.”

Bibeau, in the same release, said the project “demonstrate(s) our government’s commitment to positioning Canada as a leader for the sustainable production of vegetables.”

CAP’s AgriInnovate program backs projects that “aim to accelerate the demonstration, commercialization and/or adoption of innovative products, technologies, processes or services that increase agri-sector competitiveness and sustainability.”

The program can provide at least 50 per cent of the funding toward eligible project costs, as long as total Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada funding requested doesn’t top $10 million. Combined government funding being applied toward total eligible project costs must not be higher than 75 per cent.

AAFC is taking funding applications for the program on a continuous basis through March 2023 or until its funding is “fully committed.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network