In a significant move to fortify the potato industry of Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.), the Canadian Government has announced a substantial investment aimed at aiding the sector’s recovery and stimulating growth.
This initiative comes as a response to the 2021 potato wart crisis that severely impacted the potato sales to the United States, posing a threat to the livelihoods of thousands of Islanders.
Supporting a variety of investments
The Prince Edward Island Potato Stabilization and Innovation Initiative (PSII), a two-year program with a $16 million budget, is designed to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in modernizing and diversifying their operations to better adapt to evolving market conditions. The initiative will support a variety of investments, including the digitalization and automation of processes, enhancement of storage facilities, development of value-added products, and market diversification.
The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), has announced a combined contribution exceeding $12.5 million for 27 businesses across P.E.I. This announcement underscores the Government of Canada’s dedication to collaborating with the P.E.I. potato sector to ensure that producers and their supporting businesses are well-positioned for sustainable, long-term growth.
Potato industry a cornerstone of the economy
The potato sector is a cornerstone of P.E.I.’s economy, contributing over $527 million to the provincial GDP in 2016 and employing more than 5,000 Islanders. The federal support aims to empower the sector to continue its recovery and equip Island farmers with the necessary tools to build resilience for future generations.
In addition to the PSII, the Government of Canada has also launched the Surplus Potato Management Response plan and committed an additional $28 million through various programs and initiatives to support the industry.
Resilience in the face of challenges
This comprehensive approach to supporting the P.E.I. potato sector is a testament to the government’s understanding of the critical role agriculture plays in the community and the economy. The investment in state-of-the-art equipment and the people who drive the industry daily is a strategic move to ensure the sector’s competitiveness and resilience in the face of challenges.
“The Island’s potato industry is made up of many rural and urban based businesses, creating critical economic momentum in our Province,” says Sean Casey, Member of Parliament for Charlottetown. “Federal support for this industry’s recovery not only helps hard-working growers and processors, it also has a very real ripple effect, strengthening many other sectors like advanced manufacturing and tourism.”