Nova Scotia farmers and food processors will have access to a new $5-million program over the next two years aimed at helping food production and making environmental improvements to their operations.
In an interview Monday, provincial Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell said the goal of the Agriculture Clean Technology Program is to help farmers use technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing production through extended growing seasons.
Colwell said the program would target the use of technologies that will assist the year-round availability of food through such things as improved greenhouse lighting and cleaner and more efficient energy sources.
He said that historically, Nova Scotia produce such as lettuce has not been available in the winter – a situation he said is beginning to change with the advent of new greenhouse technologies.
“For the customer, it means they are going to have local produce in the long term and know it’s done in a sustainable way,” Colwell said.
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The minister said the COVID-19 pandemic has also shown the importance of food security and of having access to fresh, locally produced food, especially when it becomes difficult to import meat and vegetables.
Colwell said in the early days of the pandemic, the country narrowly averted shortages for some beef, pork and chicken products. “Fortunately the industry is diverse enough across the country that we could keep processing going,” he said.
He added that increased production would help the province’s farm produce exports, which are currently worth around $450 million a year.
While specific details of the program, including dollar amounts, are still being worked out, Colwell said the support will be offered to small and medium-sized projects. There’s no word yet on when it will begin.