09/04/2013 10:51 EDT | Updated 11/04/2013 05:12 EST

Ottawa gives $4.2 million for research into diseases that hit canola crops

SASKATOON - Ottawa has given the canola industry $4.2 million for a five-year research project.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz made the announcement in Saskatoon on Wednesday.

He said there's work to be done on diseases that continue to haunt market access, such as blackleg and sclerotinia.

Joan Heath, chair of SaskCanola and a canola farmer near Radisson, said blackleg has the potential to wipe out a crop.

Heath said research projects like this one are critical to keeping Saskatchewan's canola industry as a whole thriving.

Another $1.4 million dollars was given to the research through a levy paid by the 26,000 members of SaskCanola.

Saskatchewan produces almost half of Canada's canola which contributes over $5.4 billion a year to the province's economy.