Up to $2 million to be invested to help farmers with fertilizer solutions amidst supply chain issues.
By Andrew Joseph, Frams.com; Image by Jing from Pixabay
The Ontario government has announced it will invest up to $2 million over two years in the Fertilizer Accelerating Solutions & Technology Challenge to help farmers address issues around fertilizer shortages.
The funding aims to support made-in-Ontario solutions to increase the availability of fertilizer options, alternatives, and technology, to better ensure farmers have the tools to provide consumers with a safe and stable food supply.
In 2021, Ontario farmers spent over $1.2 billion on commercial fertilizers and lime, which was applied to over 6.8 million acres of farmland. The cost of commercial fertilizers and lime increased in 2022—up to three times the cost in 2021—and is expected to stay high.
“We have heard from farmers that action must be taken to increase the domestic supply of fertilizer options. Our government has listened and is introducing an initiative that will generate made-in Ontario alternatives to help farmers secure the inputs they need to succeed, and to support innovative, technology-based solutions to grow the agri-food sector,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). “Ensuring that farmers have the tools and products they need to grow good food is vital to the sustainability of Ontario’s food security and keeping the province as a world leader in food production.”
Following consultations with farmers and the agri-food sector, the Province of Ontario is launching the Challenge to address the ongoing supply chain challenges for fertilizer, while promoting innovation in the province’s agri-food sector.
The Challenge is a competitive opportunity for agri-businesses and organizations that will focus on investing in projects, such as new solutions like biofertilizers, that can help reduce dependency on imported products. It will be delivered by Bioenterprise Canada, a national non-profit business accelerator that engages Ontario-based companies in funding opportunities that will bring new and innovative products to market, helping Ontario’s food supply chain and agricultural practices become more efficient and resilient.
Dave Smardon, Chief Executive Officer with Bioenterprise Canada said: "Ontario is once again showcasing its support for innovation in agriculture, and the economic benefits that will necessarily follow that support. The environmental impact of reducing, targeting, or finding alternatives for traditional fertilizer inputs is not just a discussion for Ontario. We will be leading the charge on new, sustainable practices that will bolster our position in a global market, and move us that much closer to Canada’s ultimate sustainability goals."
This investment will encourage both immediate and long-term innovative solutions to help meet Ontario farmers’ fertilizer needs by accelerating the development of new and alternative products for the agri-food sector.
"The Ontario government’s Challenge is an important step in addressing the fertilizer challenges that grain farmers have been facing this year. The strategic investments to bring new fertilizer alternatives to market quickly will support a safe and stable food supply chain and support the success of Ontario’s grain farmers," said Brendan Byrne, Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario.
This important investment, together with additional investments and opportunities the province has made to support farmers, will help support the province’s position as a world leader in food production and ensure that Ontarians have a safe and stable supply of food.
Ontario’s agri-food sector supported more than 750,000 jobs in Ontario last year and contributed $47.6 billion to the provincial economy.
Russel Hurst, the Executive Director for Ontario Agri-Business Association (OABA) offered his comments on the news. "Ontario Agri-Business Association and its members commend the Ontario government’s launch of the challenge as a novel approach to enable the agri-food sector to continue to build resiliency and drive innovation within the province. OABA’s crop input suppliers have a long history of bringing Ontario’s farmers the newest and proven technologies and innovations to increase both crop yield and quality. The pandemic has brought to light the need to re-focus on strengthening our domestic agri-food supply chains and the program will be an important initiative to allow agri-businesses in Ontario to accelerate new commercial product innovations that have real impacts through the supply chain and especially at the farm level."
Details on the Challenge and project guidelines are available at www.Ontario.ca and on the Bioenterprise website www.bioenterprise.ca.
Applications for eligible applicants will be accepted beginning on October 5, 2022, through November 2, 2022.