The Government of Canada is investing in the hemp and flax industry so that farmers can harness new opportunities and access new value added markets. In March 2009, the Honourable Vic Toews, Member of Parliament for Provencher and President of the Treasury Board, announced a CAN$9.6 million (approx. € 5.7 million) investment in the Natural Fibres for the Green Economy Network (NAFGEN).
Led by Flax Canada 2015 Inc., NAFGEN is a multidisciplinary network that brings together Canada’s top researchers, industry and producers to help create additional profitable natural fibre-based industrial value chains by improving varieties, technologies and processes, and by improving products made out of the natural fibres.
“NAFGEN’s networking approach is significant in that through collaboration of government, university and corporate research facilities and scientists their strengths and specialities are combined,” said Barry Hall, President, Flax Canada 2015 Inc. “Working as a team affords the best opportunity for the industry to develop new and improved technology and products for both flax and hemp fibre, thereby enhancing the value of these two crops.”
Funding for this project is being provided through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program (ABIP), a federal funding program designed to integrate Canada’s talent from universities, industry and government in order to stimulate creativity, leverage resources, reduce costs and accelerate progress towards commercialization of bioproducts and bioprocesses.
“The funding for fibre research through the NAFGEN network is important and holds considerable promise for enhancing the value of the flax crop to producers through whole crop utilization,” said Eric Fridfinnson, a Manitoba-based flax producer and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Flax Canada 2015 Inc.
The Natural Fibres for the Green Economy Network (NAFGEN) will help make the natural fibre industry more profitable by getting more value out of hemp and flax plants and processes. They’re working towards breeding better varieties of flax and hemp, and they’re solving problems with harvesting, processing, storage, transportation and grading. The network will also develop technologies to convert fibre and associated residue into a variety of new industrial chemicals and products.
The network is led by Flax Canada 2015 Inc. and includes the Alberta Research Council Inc., Biolin Research Inc., Composites Innovation Centre Manitoba Inc., FPInnovations, Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation, Lanaupôle Fibres, Manitoba Zero Tillage Research Association, McGill University, Natural Step Canada, Ontario Hemp Alliance, Parkland Crop Diversification Foundation, Queen’s University, Schweitzer-Mauduit Canada Inc., Tekle Technical Services Inc., the University of New Brunswick, the University of Toronto, the University of Saskatchewan and Wheatland Conservation Area.
Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program (ABIP)
Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, press release, 2009-03-18.