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CAN: Demand for organic seed treatment rises

Production of organic field crops is growing in Canada. France-based Roquette, for example, is keen to increase organic pea production this year to feed its Manitoba processing facility where plant-based protein ingredients are being produced. In 2020, for the first time, more acres of organic hemp were contracted in Western Canada by at least one Canadian company than conventional hemp in order to meet rising demands for organic hemp food products.

Organic seed treatments, which in Canada must be allowed under the Canadian Organic Standard and Permitted Substances List, are therefore in demand. Jessica Shade, director of science programs for the U.S.-based Organic Center (which conducts research on organic food and farming), notes that they can be as simple as hot water treatments to eradicate seedborne diseases.

Doug Currier, technical director at the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) in the United States, says that these days his organization is seeing applications for “microbial inoculants, and mined minerals (both as natural carriers for inoculants and as lubricants), as well as sanitizers such as peracetic acid, which as a pesticide, is classified as a production aid in the permitted substances list, but these types of seed treatments have been around for some time.”

XiteBio had already registered these technologies as conventional seed treatments in 2013, explains president and CEO Manas Banerjee. “We started with soybeans and then developed a product for pulses and other crops,” he says. “Over the last few years, we started hearing from more and more farmers with increasing organic acreage, asking if they could use our products on their organic crops as well. We looked up the standards and everything in our products looked to be compliant. This was not surprising because we believe in nature enhancing nature. The process of organic certification took only a few months last year.”

“It’s a very big potential market,” Banerjee says. “Roquette wants organic peas and Merit Functional Foods wants peas and also canola. But as the plant-based protein demand increases, and the demand for organic food products increases, expect that organic acreage of any pulses, as well as that of canola, wheat, barley, corn and potatoes will grow as well.”

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