The Canadian government is investing $8 million in organic research that includes projects on increasing yield and quality of organic fruits and vegetables.

The grant from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, announced Aug. 12, is for the Organic Federation of Canada and will be managed by the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada at Dalhousie University, Truro, Nova Scotia, according to a release from the federal agency.

Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in the release that increasing demand for organics shows the investment is in the public’s interest.

“Investments like this in research and development span the entire value chain, from production through to the consumer, and support the competitiveness, growth and prosperity of the organic sector and our overall economy,” Ritz said in the release.

Canada’s organic exports have been valued at over $458 million, with most going to the U.S. and the European Union, according to statistics from the agriculture department. The department also reported only 15% of the organic produce consumed in Canada is produced in Canada.

“This project involves researchers across the country working together to provide us with the tools needed to expand production to meet the ever-growing consumer demand for organic food,” Ted Zettel, president of the Organic Federation of Canada said in the release.

There are 37 research projects in the works that will benefit from the $8 million grant. More than 135 researchers from more than 40 Canadian institutions are expected to participate, according to the Organic Federation website.

Target crops for the research include grapes, apples, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, bitter melons and peas, according to the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada website. Research topics to be funded by the grant include:

  • Integrated organic practices in apple orchard management;
  • Microbial management in organic grape cultivation;
  • Using high tunnels to produce organic vegetables;
  • Optimization of a nontraditional cooling and dehumidifying method for a semi-closed organic tomato greenhouse;
  • Improving yield and quality of greenhouse-grown organic vegetables;
  • Impact of green and organic fertilizers on the yield and safety of organic carrots grown in muck soil; and
  • The health benefits of soil management techniques to improve flavor and phytochemical content of carrots.