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Raspberry world converging here

Timing a key factor for organizers, who are hoping for a good turnout by B.C. and Washington growers.

By Judie Steeves I

t’s going to be a bit of a juggling act, but holding the International Raspberry Organization’s eighth world conference as close to harvest as possible is important in order to showcase the industry, yet not during harvest when growers would be too busy to attend. As a result, explains Sharmin Gamiet, executive-director of B.C.’s Raspberry Industry Development Council, the IRO gathering will be held in Abbotsford and Lynden, WA, June 3-7.

The organization meets in a member country every second year, with the last conference in Chile in 2010. That was attended by Gamiet as well as B.C. raspberry grower David Mutz, president of the RIDC and a member of the board of the IRO, representing Canada.

Most of this country’s raspberries come from the 5,000 acres in the B.C. industry, and it is also the only province producing processed berries. “The Fraser Valley is perfect for raspberries, in climate and soil and with access to water,” commented Gamiet, and this is the only region where machine harvesting predominates, so IRO members are very keen to see our technology, she noted.

Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley have a long history of producing raspberries, with varieties that are known world-wide, including several that were bred in either Washington


On a global scale, this region has contributed significantly to the industry, Gamiet added, a point that was made in the bid to host this year’s conference.

Although it will be early, she’s very hopeful B.C. growers can show some of their harvesting equipment in action for the field days which growers from around the world will be interested in attending.

Delegates from member countries such as Australia, Chile, China, England, France, Hungary, Poland, Scotland, Serbia, Mexico, Spain, Bulgaria and the U.S. will arrive in B.C. June 3. A reception for all participants will be held at the Ramada Inn that evening.

On Monday, June 4, member countries will give presentations that will include an update on their industry —total acreage, varieties, processing, marketing.

This will be an opportunity for local

growers who attend to learn about production and varieties grown in other regions in the world, about the size of the industry elsewhere and how and where their berries are marketed. “That session will really help our growers to learn more about their competition,” commented Gamiet. She expects about 150 people to register for the conference, and at least 60 for the field trips. Delegates can choose how they wish to participate: for just particular events or for the whole conference.

“That kind of information is very valuable for growers to make decisions about their future,” she pointed out. For instance, breakfast yogurts are huge in some countries. By knowing that, we can capitalize on those trends. Processors too would benefit, she noted.

The industry has about 175 commercial growers, and she expects that at least 100 local growers and packers will attend.

British Columbia Berry Grower • Summer 2012 5

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