Regular readers will know that I have an interest in trying to look ahead and fathom how this world is going to feed itself on finite land resources and a population seemingly incapable of slowing its ever burgeoning growth.
So it is with some definite interest to me when last December Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan was launched by the Saskatchewan government.
The Institute has a lofty goal -- to develop Saskatchewan-led solutions to feed a growing world population -- and certainly one worth pursuing.
The funding mix, with initial commitments of up to CDN $35 million from PotashCorp and CDN $15 million from the province over the next seven years, should give the Institute a solid resource base on which to start its efforts. That said the provincial share, which amounts to a couple of bucks per person per year in the province, is perhaps not as large as we should expect.
But it is a start, and that is the important thing.
“The institute will apply Saskatchewan’s unique resources, innovation and expertise to address the increasing global demand for safe, reliable food,” detailed a release.
Food security is of course tied directly to agriculture production, and in terms of farming Saskatchewan inventors have long shown an ability to solve problems.
We have seen that first hand with George Morris developing the rod weeder, which at the time was a major step forward in field tillage technology.
And then there is the work done in Saskatchewan in terms of zero tillage by companies such as Flexicoil, Bourgault, and others.
It’s the same thing we have seen farmers accomplish in terms of production.
Producers have been quick to pick up on advancements in farming techniques, whether it is zero-till alternatives, the move from common rapeseed to canola, and then genetically modified canola which offers still more options, or how farmers adopted pulse crops into their rotations and quickly became major exporters on a global scale.
So turning the ingenuity we have seen come to the fore in the past and applying it to the problems associated with food security is a step forward.
In announcing the launch Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said it well.
“The plan for growth positions Saskatchewan as a global leader in food security and innovation by 2020,” he said in a release. “Advancing Saskatchewan’s agricultural advantage allows us to significantly increase the global food supply –our moral obligation as a good global citizen – while building the next economy, an innovation economy, here at home.”
Given our innovative past, and our quickness to adopt advancements, producers should seek to lead developments to ensure greater food security.
In the end it is good for our producers, and industry, but more importantly for the world population in terms of preventing hunger.
Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor with Yorkton This Week.