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APRIL 2018 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC


Cherry growers eye Korea


Increasing market access will improve returns to producers “Everybody is interested in


by TOM WALKER KELOWNA – BC Cherry


Association president Sukhpaul Bal welcomed members to their annual meeting with a weather story. “I remember standing here


last year recalling we had never seen so much rain during the 2016 cherry harvest. Well, 2017 took it to the other extreme,“ he told growers. “I didn’t think it was possible to see so many 11- row (smaller than one inch diameter) cherries in one season.”


Last summer’s hot, dry


weather resulted in smaller than normal fruit for most growers. Members gathered in


Kelowna to listen to reports, review finances and receive updates on research programs the association is involved with, as well as concerns about pests. One of the highlights of the past year, Bal recalled, was a conference call with Canadian Food Inspection Agency market access staff who related they were asking other producer groups to follow BCCA’s market access committee model. “They are looking at us as leaders on how we are running our association,” said Bal. “We are in a good position, with access to markets in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, but the more markets we can have, the better,” confirmed David Geen, who presented the market access report. Currently, growers are working on access to the Japanese market.


Japan,” says Geen. And access for cherries to


Korea is moving faster than expected. “Canadian blueberries are in and they have paved the way,” says Geen. “There is a possibility of visits this summer but more likely to be 2019, allowing us to ship to Korea by 2020.” Bal gave a nod to


government support for travel to the Asia and Berlin Fruit Logistica trade shows and recognized the co- ordination and co-operation between the BCCA and the BC Fruit Growers’ Association. “A good example is the joint committee we set up to present our concerns to Kelowna city council regarding the proposed worker housing bylaw,” Bal noted. “Through our efforts, we were able to get some movement from council. I thank Fred Steele for his years of service to the BCFGA and look forward to working with new president Pinder Dhaliwal.” “I really appreciate the amount of hours that the board has put in over the last year for the betterment of our industry,” he added. “With the possibility of new markets opening in the near future, I am very optimistic that we will see strong growth in our


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 Market champions


23


With its winter market schedule, the Nat Bailey Farmers Market in Vancouver has become a year- round destination and “revolutionized growing in BC.” Its efforts – and heated facilities for vendors – won it honours as top large farmers’ market in BC at this year’s BC Association of Farmers Market conference in Victoria in early March. Esquimalt Farmers Market was named medium market of the year. Friesen Farm was singled out as vendor of the year (farmer), while Lita’s Mexican foods was the non-farmer vendor of the year. Pictured from the Nat Bailey’s Farmers Market is, left to right, are Gabrielle Vacheresse, Jennifer Kassimatis, Anna Helmer, Laura Smit, Lindsay Forstbauer, BCAFM president Wylie Bystedt, Anna Bock and Randy Elliott. ANICE WONG PHOTO


industry that will further strengthen our position as one of the premier crops grown in Canada.” Treasurer Christine Dendy


reviewed the association’s “good assets”. “It is important for us to


keep a good cushion of funds,” Dendy pointed out. “We are doing a lot more


programs.”


She put out a call for more memberships. “Several of our large


growers are not members,” she noted. “It would be nice to show your appreciation for our work by supporting us with a membership.” Dendy retired as treasurer and Bal thanked her for her


years of service.


“She has been an asset to the industry in the Okanagan for years.” Sukhpaul Bal returns as


president along with David R. Geen as vice-president. Erin Carlson replaces Christine Dendy as treasurer and Graem Nelson is secretary, all by acclamation.


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