The Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi) has received five years of funding for its core programs, but is still looking for cash to cover a planned relocation.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced an investment of $15 million Oct. 27, which will support market development efforts and sales of Canadian field crops in global markets through customer education and training.
“Cigi is a key reason why Canadian grains account for close to half of Canada’s total agricultural exports, some $23 billion last year alone,” Ritz said, praising the institute’s ability to turn outreach and promotion into “real sales.”
Once funded by the Canadian Wheat Board, the non-profit market development and technical analysis organization now relies of a mix of revenue, corporate contributions and government funding.
The $15 million comes from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriMarketing Program, which falls under Growing Forward 2.
“What this funding will focus on is essentially the programs we have working with international customers, us going out to them and also them coming in to us, as well as some very technical exchanges,” said Cigi CEO, JoAnne Buth. “It’s not actually related to our facility renewal project.”
The institute has considered moving to a new, larger location for some time and first discussed plans to do so in 2012 when the Saskatoon Economic Development Authority offered incentives to relocate to that city.
Recent statements indicate Cigi is committed to remaining in downtown Winnipeg, but still needs to fund the move and find a location.
“We’re looking at a variety of different options… we really have to take a close look at our programs and the possibility of expansion, we need to be able to expand, but we also need to keep lean and tight going into the next phase of this,” said Buth.
She added that Cigi would be closer to a decision in six months time, and that talks with the province regarding possible funding through grain innovation hub initiative are continuing.
“We’re trying to manoeuvre things into place and figure out what is it that the industry needs, what is it that farmers need and then beyond that, how do we make sure we have the best in technical equipment and the best facility,” said Buth.