Monsanto has announced it will spend $15 million over the next two years on infrastructure projects in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The agricultural biotechnology corporation unveiled plans to construct a new, state-of-the-art Monsanto breeding centre to be located adjacent to the current site of Monsanto's corporate Canadian head office. The office is located at the SmartPark Research and Technology Park on the University of Manitoba campus in Winnipeg.

'Canola is a key strategic commercial imperative for Monsanto's Canadian business and a significant crop for Western Canadian farmers.' — Ryan Baldwin, Monsanto

It also intends to upgrade and expand Monsanto's Crop Technology Research Centre (CTRC) in Saskatoon, with a total investment of $3 million.

Many of the canola hybrids developed by the breeding group will be tested and advanced at this facility, according to a Monsanto press release. As well, all canola trait development and field testing will be managed out of the CTRC.

"Canola is a key strategic commercial imperative for Monsanto's Canadian business and a significant crop for Western Canadian farmers," said spokesperson Ryan Baldwin.

"The investment at SmartPark will allow us to increase synergies between the breeding, product development, supply and commercial aspects of our business to ensure we deliver on the pipeline of new, beneficial crop technologies for our farm customers."

The Winnipeg centre will serve as the home to the majority of the breeding effort for Monsanto's canola business.

Approximately 40 staff involved in line development breeding, breeding support functions and the canola breeding management team will work at the new site, which will also include laboratory facilities for all canola quality analytics, double haploid breeding (tissue culture) and plant pathology.

Plant cultivation facilities such as growth rooms, soil preparation areas and warehouse space are also incorporated into the facility design and will accommodate activities related to canola plant breeding such as crosses, plant cultivation, drying and threshing.

The total cost for construction of the breeding facility is expected to be about $10 million and include an additional $2 million in capital costs.

Construction will begin immediately with an anticipated completion date of June 2010. Monsanto expects the new facility to be fully occupied by December 2010.