Research aims to increase insect, disease resistance of prairie crops
SASKATOON—The federal government and Canadian farmers are continuing their quest to breed better grain.
The Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the farmer-funded Western Grains Research Foundation have announced a renewed research partnership that aims to breed wheat and barley more resistant to insects, disease and environmental strains like drought or flooding. The two groups have pledged a record $21 million to fund research for a further five years.
“Wheat and barley contribute billions of dollars annually to Canada’s economy,” Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said. “This substantial investment in wheat and barley variety development will advance innovation, giving Canadian grain farmers a competitive edge to meet world demands for food and feed.”
The funds will boost research in plant pathology and physiology as well as entomology and grain quality. It will also enable the organizations to invest in specialized research equipment upgrades.
“The benefits of investing wheat and barley check-offs into breeding are clearly recognized and valued by farmers and the Federal government,” Keith Degenhardt, vice-chair of the WGRF said. “Check-off investments of over $90 million since 1994 have resulted in the development of 120 wheat and barley varieties.
The government noted that in the past, each dollar invested in wheat and barley research has returned $20.40 and $7.56 to farmers for each respective crop.