The Saskatchewan NTFP industry continues to develop. Wild mushrooms and wild rice continue to be the most important sectors of the industry. Wild rice production is down dramatically from the 10 year average of 2.3 million pounds. High water levels for the last three years have significantly reduced production: production last year was about 50% of normal. The low production has reduced inventories and there has been an increase in prices.
Wild mushroom production has been variable. While chanterelle production has been good, morel production has been low due to the decreased amount of forest fires in the region. There were some large fires in accessible areas in 2006 so there is hope for an increase in morel production in 2007. Chanterelle production was approximately 40,000 pounds in 2007 with strong prices paid to pickers.
Northern Lights Foods is a First Nations company marketing organically-certified wild rice and mushrooms. This company is owned by the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, La Ronge, SK.
Waskwei Forest Products Cooperative in Cumberland House continues its attempt to develop a market for fiddleheads from their region. As the second largest inland delta in North America, the Cumberland House Delta is a very productive region for fiddleheads. A fiddlehead cleaner has been developed to clean the fiddleheads using forced air. This will reduce the cleaning time necessary to prepare the fiddleheads for market. Work is still required to increase the shelf life of fresh fiddleheads.
The La Ronge Wild Rice Corporation operates a wild rice processing facility in La Ronge. The majority of the shareholders in this company are First Nations and Métis. Besides processing wild rice, this company is also diversifying its operation into various NTFPs. The company purchases and processes fireweed for sale to a company in Saskatoon that produces plant extracts. La Ronge Wild Rice Corporation is also
examining the potential for essential oil extraction. They have purchased a 500 litre unit with a capacity for approximately 100-150 kg of plant material. Trials have been completed on the extraction of oils from conifers and other northern plants.
In Northwest Saskatchewan, Ric and Rose Richardson with the help of Tim Brigham, Royal Roads and Dave Buck, Northern Forest Diversification Centre, The Pas, MB completed a Strategic Plan for a Non-Timber Forest Products Training and Industry Development Centre for Northern Saskatchewan.
In Northeast Saskatchewan, the Creighton Regional Development Corporation is working on several NTFP projects. They are working with a consultant, Arbokem Inc. to develop arborchemicals. European companies have been extracting high value chemicals from the forest for decades. The Creighton Regional Development Corporation has developed a laboratory in Creighton to do research in the extraction of arborchemicals and other plant and animal extracts. There are intentions to link the lab facility to interdisciplinary and collaborative training and research approaches for NTFPs. They have a website at: http://www.saskntfp.com/.