A new web-based enterprise tool for agriculture producers from 100 Mile House to Quesnel was launched by Community Futures Cariboo Chilcotin (CFCC) on Nov. 2.
The web-based tool, MarketplaceBC.ca, is a direct result of a combined effort between various community partners including CFDC, the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition (CCBAC), Agriculture Enterprise Centre (AEC) based in 100 Mile House, and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Wylie Bystedt, a producer based out of Quesnel, coordinated the project.
“I was hired by Community Futures in spring of 2011. There had already been some work around this, so I was hired to implement some of the recommendations that had come forward for a web-based tool,” Bystedt said.
She went out and talked to producers in the region to determine what they wanted from the web-tool.
On an individual basis, many producers were accessing information and making connections via the internet, she found, so the point of developing MarketplaceBC.ca was to move forward.
“The internet is going to be the way business is done so we needed to get a tool that people could use. Even producers who we traditionally thought were too far away to regularly access the internet, if they were on party lines or things like that, we found that even they were coming into town and using computers at libraries and friends’ houses,” Bystedt explained.
One of the advantages of the tool is that producers who do not have their own websites can have a page on the new web-tool.
By clicking on “Find Local Products,” on the website, local producers that have signed up to be part of the list so far can be viewed.
There’s information about where they are located, what they sell, where their products are available, if they offer agri-tourism, or even if they are looking for a farm sitter.
By making the web-tool broad enough, anyone involved with agriculture will “find a home” on the site, Bystedt explained.
“The page is devoted to them, so for producers that don’t have any other web presence, they now have a page. They can now direct people to this page.”
While the initial launch was Nov. 2, the site has been live for about three weeks, said Jason Ryll, CFCC marketing and public relations manager.
“We wanted to make sure it’s functionality was up to par and to make sure we could help agriculture producers get a head start going into winter. Agriculture isn’t necessarily on the forefront of everybody’s minds, but now is a good time for producers to start determining what kinds of demands will be there for the next growing season,” Ryll said.
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said MarketplaceBC.ca is the result of a long process, including a great deal of regional consultation and research.
“I’m happy to see all the hard work bear fruit, producing an effective tool that agricultural businesses can take advantage of. With the improved ability to research market demand that this website gives to our producers, it will open up new opportunities for them that will benefit consumers as well.”
“Investing in agriculture is important to the Cariboo Chilcotin region as we diversify and grow our forest dependent communities beyond the mountain pine beetle devastation,” said Kerry Cook, chair Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition and Mayor of Williams Lake.
In a press release CCFC noted there are approximately 1,160 farms/ranches in the Cariboo Regional District farming over 486,000 ha. of land. However, most farms in the Cariboo and surrounding regions earned less than $50,000 annually from total gross farm receipts.
Compounding many of the challenges facing agriculture in the area is the average age of farm operators at 53.8 years of age.
To view an online video explaining how the program was developed and how the website connects local producers to the world at www.cfdccariboo.com or via www.youtube.com/user/CFCaribooChilcotin.