Ontario#;s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Brian Coburn, has announced investment totalling C$646,000 under the Healthy Futures for Agriculture Program.

The investment has been earmarked to develop energy- and cost-efficient drying systems to manufacture new nutraceutical and functional food products from various crops. The systems will produce powders and extracts from crops like garlic, organic sprouts, blueberries, cranberries and strawberries.

Project partners will test the products for healthy compounds, and determine their business and market potential.

Coburn said in a press release: “Investing in innovative ways to add value to Ontario agricultural crops has the potential to really pay off over the long term – in increased sales, investments and jobs.

“The global and domestic markets for products like these are growing at an amazing pace, and I’m pleased that our industry partners are showing confidence in the province by making this commitment.”

Ontario province is investing C$253,000 in the project, and the remaining costs will be picked up by NutraSur Canada Inc, Canadian Organic Sprout Co Inc, Langside Farms Ltd, DeCloet Ltd and Scotlynn Investments Inc. The industry partners anticipate as much as C$3.5m in new investment, and the creation of as many as 25 full-time positions.

The four-year, C$90m Healthy Futures for Ontario Agriculture program is focused on enhancing the safety and quality of Ontario food products, capitalizing on marketing and export opportunities, improving rural water quality and making efficient use of water resources.