For the first time in recent history, Manitoba and Alberta have overtaken Prince Edward Island in potato production, according to a Statistics Canada report released Friday.
The CBC’s Sarah Fraser reports that although P.E.I. farmers planted more acres this spring than either of those western provinces, and were able to harvest the entire crop due to good conditions, it was the summer’s drought that led to poor growing conditions and lighter yields per acre grown.
“It’s disappointing, but no one is as disappointed as the family farms,” said Greg Donald, executive director of the P.E.I. Potato Board. He said he is “not surprised” however because farmers expected production to be down due to the drought.
Stats Can’s report shows that Manitoba’s production for 2020 was 2.4 billion pounds, Alberta’s was 2.3 billion pounds, and P.E.I.’s was 2.1 billion pounds.
“The difference in productivity, the yield, between P.E.I. and those provinces is water, and the lack of ability of farmers to access water here on P.E.I. And that’s reflecting in our production,” Donald said.
Governments in other provinces have been supporting enhanced irrigation and P.E.I.’s government has not, he said. Since 2002, there has been a moratorium on high-capacity agricultural wells used for irrigation. A P.E.I. legislative committee recently advised expanding the ban “until research is available to make evidence-based decisions.”
“I know there’s [an] increasing degree of frustration and difficulties,” Donald said. “The viability of many farms, and sustainability, is in question because of the lack of access to water,” along with the trend to hot, dry summers.
Source: CBC. Read the full report here
Photo: ‘It’s going to threaten the viability of P.E.I.’s family farms if they aren’t able to access tools like irrigation,’ says Donald. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)