OKANAGAN OUTLOOK 2011 — 25
Agriculture: apple growers aim to follow success of cherries
The apple of Joe Sardinha’s eye is, in fact, a cherry.
The president of B.C. Fruit Growers Association says that progress in the cherry industry is good news for the Okanagan’s staple crop, apples.
“We’ve really branched out, in the last few years, into lat- er-season varieties that ultimately benefit the growers, be- cause we’re able to capitalize on markets that aren’t as saturated,” he said. “It’s nice to report on a successful cherry business.”
He said what cherry growers are doing sets a good ex- ample for the apple markets. Selling the 2010 apple crop was a challenge, Sardinha said, with returns compromised by a lingering recession and a strong Canadian dollar.
“It was an 80-cent dollar, and it was a totally different ball
game,” he said. “That’s why it’s been three years in a row where it’s been tough on growers.”
However, early returns are positive this season thanks to
an average North American yield. He’s also seeing posi- tive influences from the “buy local” and fresh food move- ment. Of course, that doesn’t mean his work is completed.
BCFGA continues to meet with governments to talk
about investment and incentive programs. Sardinha said the association is also reviewing its operations, matching its infrastructure to crop volumes and need. After all, stay- ing in business and keeping the industry healthy is para- mount for his job description.
“Ultimately, too, we have to find ways to save costs in
storage and packing operations so that those savings can be passed on in terms of grower returns,” he said.
To ensure the industry remains competitive, Sardinha said BCFGA employs a three-prong approach.
— Match infrastructure to industry to maximize efficiency — Maximize quality through good horticultural practices — Increase marketing efforts “Those three things can go a long way to getting this in-
dustry on a stable footing and a bright future,” he said.
“I’m very optimistic,” he added. “I love this business, and I continue to enjoy being in this business. But the bottom line is, it’s got to profitable.Gr
owers have to make money. … And I know a lot of British Columbians want to see this industry succeed.”
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