New food security institute to look at supply from field to fork

A new centre is being developed to look at food supply as a growing world population needs to be fed. The Global Institute for Food Security, based at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, will look at everything from boosting crop yields to government agricultural policies.

SASKATOON — A new centre is being developed to look at food supply as a growing world population needs to be fed.

The Global Institute for Food Security, based at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, will look at everything from boosting crop yields to government agricultural policies.

“One of the things that makes this centre unique from other centres is that we will be looking at the entire stream from production to the delivery of food where it is needed, so one way of saying that is, we are looking at the whole process from field to fork,” said university president Ilene Busch-Vishniac.

The institute was launched Monday with $35 million from Saskatoon-based PotashCorp (TSX:POT), the world’s largest producer of fertilizer, and $15 million from the province. The funding is for seven years.

PotashCorp president and CEO Bill Doyle said in an interview with The Canadian Press that the idea came about when he joined Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and then-University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon for lunch in May 2011. The conversation turned to food security and the idea for the institute was born, said Doyle.

“It really is exactly what we talked about over lunch that day. It just has a lot more meat on the bones today than it did then,” said Doyle.

Doyle said food security is a challenge. He said there about two million malnourished around the world “so there’s a lot of work to be done” and the pressure on the food supply is great.

He said research at the institute could, for example, find ways for seeds to grow with less water.

“The amount of water that agriculture takes, it’s a huge, huge percentage of the total water consumed in the world. And to be more sparing with water, to have seeds that would sip water rather than gulp water, these are the types of things that we need to develop and explore,” said Doyle.

Doyle, university and provincial officials say Saskatchewan is a good home for the institute because the province has 41 per cent of the arable land in Canada.

The province is also a leading exporter of canola, flax, mustard and lentils.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said the province has a responsibility to help feed the world and a population that is expected to reach nine billion by 2050. A United Nations report has said farmers will have to produce 70 per cent more for all those people.

“The demand is very much global and the need for much more food production is global. One of the leading ways that we’re going to have fill that need is through additional research and development,” he said.

Stewart, who has farmed for 39 years, said he has seen the industry transformed by research. He said the University of Saskatchewan is a leader in agriculture biotechnology.

“Another goal of this program, the Global Institute for Food Security, is to make us not only a leader in Canada of ag bio-tech research, but a world leader and I think that’s entirely possible,” said Stewart.

— By Jennifer Graham in Regina

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

Meghan Huizing has been selected by Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools as a finalist for the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) 2021 Edwin Parr Award. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools)
Red Deer Catholic names finalist for Edwin Parr Award

Meghan Huizing from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Blackfalds has… Continue reading

GrammaLink-Africa members are participating in the Stride to Turn the Tide campaign until June 30. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer group walking to raise money for African grandmothers

A group of central Albertans will be walking every day until the… Continue reading

Westerner Days could be in line to have patrons in attendance this summer as the province teased reducing COVID-19 capacity limits on outdoor events. File photo by ADVOCATE staff
Province provides hope for attendance at summer events

The province has given a positive update to organizations that hold summer… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Lights on an internet switch are lit up as with users in an office in Ottawa, on February 10, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Analysts say CRTC ruling will help regional carriers with new limits on Big Three

Analysts say CRTC ruling will help regional carriers with new limits on Big Three

In this May 26, 2018, file photo, people listen to Michael Franti perform at the BottleRock Napa Valley music festival in Napa, Calif. Canadian music festival organizers hoped this summer would mark a return to concerts, but as COVID-19 cases rage on many have already dropped off the calendar. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Eric Risberg
Facing the music: Summer concert festival organizers see no path ahead in pandemic

Facing the music: Summer concert festival organizers see no path ahead in pandemic

FILE - Ali Stroker accepts the award for best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical for her performance in "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!" at the 73rd annual Tony Awards in New York on June 9, 2019. Stroker teamed up with middle grade author Stacy Davidowitz for a new children's book "The Chance to Fly," published this week. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
Singer with disability shines in Ali Stroker’s new kids book

Singer with disability shines in Ali Stroker’s new kids book

Retired Ohio sheriff and tiny K-9 partner die the same day

Retired Ohio sheriff and tiny K-9 partner die the same day

Musicians play Sikh hymns during Vaisakhi celebrations at Guru Nanak Darbar of Long Island, Tuesday, April 13, 2021 in Hicksville, N.Y. Sikhs across the United States are holding toned-down Vaisakhi celebrations this week, joining people of other faiths in observing major holidays cautiously this spring as COVID-19 keeps an uneven hold on the country. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Sikhs mark toned-down holiday amid continuing virus concerns

Sikhs mark toned-down holiday amid continuing virus concerns

Have an opinion you'd like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
Letter: MLAs who are against tougher restrictions have no plan for consequences

The group of UCP MLAs pushing to end lockdowns are exacerbating what… Continue reading

Former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair leaves the police station after being charged with two counts of sexual assault dating back to 2014, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Preliminary inquiry in September for ex-PQ leader Boisclair charged with sex assault

MONTREAL — Former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair will have a preliminary… Continue reading

Three vials of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine are pictured in a new coronavirus, COVID-19, vaccination center at the Velodrome-Stadium in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Sohn, pool
Trudeau sending help to Ontario as Pfizer vaccine supply bolstered by 8 million doses

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says more doses of COVID-19 vaccines are coming… Continue reading

Most Read