A national agriculture research and innovation strategy is needed

  • National Newswatch

The federal and provincial governments have to be involved.Ottawa-A call by the Agri-Food Innovation Council (AIC) for the development of a national strategy for agriculture research and innovation is getting a positive response.Serge Buy, CEO of the AIC, says he hopes to have clear picture of the level of support for it later in December and have the strategy development up and running early in the New Year.The objective is to establish clear goals for a national strategy that would involve the federal and provincial governments, the agrifood industry and academia. Buy's hoping to have a 100 government and private organizations backing the plan by the end of this year.The plan would be to look at what the agrifood sector needs during the next five years as well as over a 10 to 20 year time span to both help feed the world and reduce the effects of climate change.While there are many issues that need to be examined, Buy said a key one is food shortages and how the agrifood sector can help deal with them. Supply chain disruptions are another key issue for the entire sector.Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bolstering agriculture's effectiveness as a carbon sink also needs detailed examination.It should also look at how agriculture can be most effective carbon sink. A national research and innovation strategy “should enable us to focus our efforts, increase our support and enable better adoption. It would provide approaches, timelines and could be referred to in benchmarking progress. It would certainly drive progress.”A strategy would also give governments “a better understanding of industry and academia's expectations.”AIC is ready to co-chair the group developing the strategy with government providing the other co-chair. “Based on statements made by Government of Canada officials, the return on investment for research and innovation in the agri-food sector is higher than for most other sectors. “With the agri-food sector seen as a key driver for economic development, it is important to provide the keys for our future,” Buy said.“Canada won't compete on labour and labour costs – we will, however, lead on research and innovation. We can do it better with a comprehensive national strategy in place. We also recognize that the agri-food sector creates jobs in Canada and also contributes to our GDP; a trade-positive balance.“Most importantly, it contributes to a good proportion of the food on our plates. Research and innovation can help that proportion grow and this will, in turn, contribute to food security, food safety, and environmental benefits.”Once the strategy is complete, it needs to be implemented in collaboration between industry and governments, he said. “The federal and provincial governments are key players in agri-food research and innovation and need to work with industry to help develop the strategy but also assist in its implementation. Having all stakeholders work in partnership will be essential to the strategy's success.”