A group in northwest Saskatchewan wants to inject new life and new money into the province’s wild rice industry.

Saskatchewan produces over half the wild rice in Canada, but the industry has been stagnant for a number of years and producers are not seeing a big return on investment.

On Thursday, producers will meet in Beauval to look at their options, including better marketing and more value added processing. Among the options is setting up a processing plant in the northwest, which could compete with a processing plant in La Ronge.

Organizer, Nap Gardiner, says selling raw product doesn’t bring much of a return.

“I think we are always looking at ways to maximize return to the people in northern Saskatchewan, in this case, the northwest,” he said. “They are looking at ways they can enhance their incomes by looking at the opportunities and potential of wild rice processing plant.”

This year’s harvest is expected to be about two million pounds, last year it was more than four million. Gardiner says the product has a unique demand, which is grown in pristine conditions in lakes in the boreal forest and harvested by First Nations and Metis people.

“And that has considerable market value in itself,” he said. “I think a lot of our people are diverse in their incomes and wild rice is part of their incomes.”

Gardiner says the wild rice farmers are also fishers, trappers and generally make their living off the land in the North.

He says if one sector is not performing well, the other can help balance it. There are about 200 wild rice farmers in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan produces more than half the wild rice produced in Canada. Producers are currently getting one dollar to a $1.20 a pound for raw product.