The Governments of Canada and British Columbia (BC) have agreed to invest in BC’s strawberry, blueberry and raspberry industries.

Through this funding, the governments intend to increase the competitiveness in berry production through new genetics and practices in the province.

Canada Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau said: “Our government is committed to ensuring our berry producers have the tools they need to succeed and be competitive.

“This investment into berry plant breeding will give BC growers the best berry varieties suited to the local climate, helping them to meet growing consumer demand and create good middle-class jobs.”

Lower Mainland Horticulture Improvement Association will receive annual funding of C$200,000 ($148,513) for the next five years to improve berry genetics.

Funding will be used to carry out research that will support a plant breeding programme for producing superior berry varieties that are suited to the local climate.

The programme will focus on improving crops quality, as well as increasing crops resistance to pest and disease.

It is supported by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year investment of C$3bn ($2.2bn) federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector.

“BC growers harvested C$136m of blueberries C$20m of raspberries and C$6.4m of strawberries.”

Currently, there are more than 600 blueberry growers, 100 raspberry growers and 50 strawberry growers in the BC region.

In 2017, BC growers harvested C$136m ($100.9m) of blueberries C$20m ($14.8m) of raspberries and C$6.4m ($4.7m) of strawberries.

British Columbia Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham said: “The province’s berry industry is made up of hardworking families from all over the province.

“This funding is supporting innovation and competitiveness for BC’s berries that will help give farmers a leading edge in the blueberry, raspberry and strawberry market.”