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The Quebec Produce Marketing Association signed an annual partnership agreement with financial institution Desjardins to support its Cultivating the Next-Generation program, part of the Next-Generation Network.

The program’s mission is to stimulate community engagement, encourage the development of talent, and promote and ensure the sustainability of the fruit and vegetable industry’s human resources, according to a news release.

The Next-Generation Network is open to all association members between 18 and 35. The network ensures the next generation is taken into account in setting priorities so that older members meet the needs of younger members, who are key to the future success of everyone.

Activities include a next-generation happy hour, speed mentoring and the Cultivating the Next-Generation program.

Desjardins, a large lender to the agricultural and agri-food sector, has participated in hundreds of business transfers or acquisitions from one generation to the next — transitions that are expected to increase substantially in the years ahead, according to the release.

Desjardins’ expertise, tools, human resources and market knowledge will help take the Next Generation project to the next level.

Running for eight years, the Cultivating the Next-Generation program allows selected candidates to participate in board and committee meetings. They also visit association member companies to learn about the nine sectors of members involvement and to represent the younger generation in the association’s networking activities, according to the release.

And they get the chance to accompany board president and CEO Sophie Perreault at special events and meetings with industry partners and government officials.

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