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Canada’s ag sector needs to innovate: report

To remain competitive, meet demand and increase jobs, Canada's agricultural industry needs to innovate, says the Agricultural Institute of Canada


Ottawa – The Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC) released a report on Canada’s agricultural research and innovation system.

In a statement, the AIC says the report looked at “where funding is from, how policies are developed, trends, human capital and dissemination.”

The report, called An Overview of the Canadian Agricultural Innovation System, was based on a research project funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Some of the key findings in the report, as outlined in the statement, are:

• Agriculture and agri-food generate $113.8 billion and one in every eight jobs in Canada (2.3 million);

• Canada is the world’s fifth largest global exporter of agri-food products with sales of over $55 billion;

• Public investments still represent the largest source of funding for Canada’s agriculture research and development but have been steadily declining over the last three decades;

• The private sector has either under-invested or decreased investments in research and development;

• The lack of a common analytics platform and rural broadband difficulties often prevents farmers and producers from realizing the full potential of large-scale research; and

• Skilled labour shortages are potentially undermining Canada’s research capacity.

Recommendations

Serge Buy, AIC’s CEO, says the report also includes recommendations “to support agricultural research and innovation, make Canada more competitive, and support the idea that agriculture is an essential part of Canada’s future economic development.”

On its website, the AIC says without innovation Canada will not be able to “meet the world market’s growing demand and sustain momentum in today’s global trade environment.”

The list of key recommendations are found on the AIC’s website. In order for Canada to remain competitive and increase the number of jobs in agriculture, the country needs:

• An inclusive demand-driven innovation system supported by a science-based policy framework, an enabling regulatory environment, and governance structures that promote continuous technological progress while encouraging the adoption of innovations at the farm level.

• A combination of funding mechanisms, including matching investment strategies, to suit the particular needs and characteristics of our sector and to ensure all types of research are adequately supported.

• An attractive climate for private investment in agriculture to increase the number of innovative companies willing to capitalize on our research capacity, stimulating Canada’s competitiveness and enhancing job growth.

• Participatory research approaches that engage all stakeholders in research projects and knowledge transfer activities, ensuring that new knowlege and technologies respond effectively to end-users’ needs.

• Guidance and career counselling information, investments in education through grants, scholarships and infrastructure, and Canada-wide strategies to raise the profile of agricultural innovation to help address human resource challenges in the sector.

 


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