Montreal

Quebec has reached 50% self-sufficiency for fruits and vegetables produced in greenhouses

Hovering around 30 per cent in 2020, the province has now reached 50 per cent self-sufficiency for greenhouse-grown vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce, according to Quebec's Greenhouse Producers (PSQ) union.

In 2020, province announced plan to double size of its greenhouse operations by 2025 

A woman holding a crate of tomatoes.
Isabelle Prévost is an agronomist and crop manager for Les Serres Royales in Saint-Jérôme. According to Quebec's Greenhouse Producers (PSQ) union, the province will likely exceed its food autonomy target for fruits and vegetables. (Karine Mateu/Radio-Canada)

Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, hydroponic lettuce, berries, eggplant and even figs: the variety of fruits and vegetables produced in Quebec greenhouses is growing.

So much so, the province will likely exceed its food autonomy target for this produce, according to the province's greenhouse growers.

"The craze for buying local [during the pandemic] allowed our producers to take their place, to make a little cash and to be able to invest in the future," said André Mousseau, president of Quebec's Greenhouse Producers (PSQ) union.

"Then, at the same time, the ministry decided to invest," he said. 

In November 2020, Quebec Agriculture Minister André Lamontagne, along with then Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonatan Julien, announced more than $100 million to double the size of Quebec's greenhouse operations by 2025 — totalling 250 hectares. This goal was coupled with a program to expand the electrical network adapted to rural areas.

The product of this investment can be found on Quebecers' grocery shelves and plates, according to Mousseau.

A man standing in a greenhouse full of cacti and other plants.
André Mousseau, president of the PSQ union, says the province is on track to beat its greenhouse expansion target. (Karine Mateu/Radio-Canada)

Hovering around 30 per cent in 2020, the province has now reached 50 per cent self-sufficiency for greenhouse-grown vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce, he said, though the union is aiming to push that number up to 80 per cent. 

Mousseau says at least a quarter of greenhouse growers have applied to the government for expansions of their operations, and, according to him, the 2025 target of 250 hectares will likely be exceeded.

Energy costs

In addition to funding for greenhouse expansion, all producers have access to up to 40 per cent in reimbursements from the government on certain electricity expenses. 

Energy costs for greenhouse production are high, says Mousseau. By using heat pumps and closely monitored lighting, growers are trying to lower their bills.

According to lawyer Geneviève Parent, holder of the legal research chair in food diversity and security at Laval University, the energy costs related to greenhouse production remain an extremely important factor to consider in order to achieve food autonomy.

Crops of tomatoes.
All producers have access to up to 40 per cent in reimbursements from the government on certain electricity expenses.  (Karine Mateu/Radio-Canada)

"Basically, the idea of greater food autonomy is essential, but it must be considered with human health and environmental health in mind," said Parent. 

"This is where we have a little work to do, at this level."

Parent believes greenhouses are part of the solution for food autonomy and she says Quebec is well positioned in this area, particularly in terms of science and knowledge in the field.

Based on reporting by Radio-Canada's Marika Wheeler

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now