OTTAWA, ONTARIO – The Government of Canada is celebrating Organic Week by helping organic farmers and food processors take advantage of the growth this sector has enjoyed in recent years. Organic Week begins on Canada’s Thanksgiving Day, Oct. 11, and runs until World Food Day on Oct. 16.

During the week, consumers, producers and organic enthusiasts will participate in a range of unique events planned across the country, including workshops, local farm tours and a nation-wide recipe contest.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced that an investment of more than $150,000 (US$148,138) is being made to assist the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) in promoting Canada's organic products to global consumers, to help kick off the festivities. COTA is one of several organic organizations throughout Canada that is partnering to make Organic Week a success.

"This investment will help farmers stay ahead of international market trends and enhance the global competitiveness of Canada's growing organic agriculture sector," Mr. Ritz said. "Our government is always looking to support new opportunities for Canadian farmers and processors, and this investment will do just that by helping COTA capitalize on new global markets."

The investment will allow COTA to participate in international trade shows, develop a Canadian exporter toolkit, and establish Web resources to profile the sector and launch the Canada Organic Brand. The association will build upon its long-term international strategy and provide information and resources on markets to the Canadian organic sector.

"With this second year of support from the Government of Canada's AgriMarketing Program, we can begin the work of building a brand for Canadian organic products in our target markets," said Matthew Holmes, executive director, Canada Organic Trade Association.

The Canadian organic retail market was valued at close to $2 billion in 2008, representing 66% growth since in 2006.

This investment is provided through the AgriMarketing Program, which helps national producer and processor associations to increase exports of safe, premium Canadian products around the world. The program helps implement long term international strategies, which include activities such as the expansion of international markets, consumer education and brand promotion.