MOOSOMIN - The federal and provincial governments have announced a total of $9.1 million in funding towards new crop-related research projects in 2022.
This year’s funding will support 55 crop-related projects in Saskatchewan through the province’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF).
Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit spoke with The World-Spectator about why the provincial government invested into ongoing crop-related research projects.
Why is it important for the government to invest into agriculture and crop-related research projects?
It’s very important to us as a province, if we want to really grow the ag- sector here in the province of Saskatchewan. When you look at the over the $9 million we invested this year in 55 different agriculture-related research projects, it just shows the diversity of the issues in the ag- sector here in the province of Saskatchewan.
How much of an impact does research have towards agriculture?
It has a huge impact, if you look back in history just in the past few years about what we’ve done, we’re getting higher proteins than grains, we’re seeing what probably will be the biggest thing that’s happened in the canola industry—which was straight cut canola varieties early and maturing—drought tolerable varieties as well.
But we’re also finding ways to deal with diseases and that’s what some of the projects this year will do as well. There’s mitigating root rot in peas, which is becoming a predominant issue and concern as well. Another project we approved was removing undesirable characteristics of protein ingredients from canola, hemp and flaxseed.
There’s a number of different projects and I’ve been to the university and seen the stuff going on there. It’s exciting to see these young researchers from around the world and I think that’s another thing that should really be stated, is that with this kind of investment that the province is making, the government is making along with the federal government, it allows us to attract top researchers from around the world. I can’t go without saying this is also in collaboration with the commodity groups who are partners in this as well, that have invested into $4 million into these projects as well.
In addition to commitments from the federal and provincial governments, approximately $4.1 million was contributed by the following industry partners in support of these projects: Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF), Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission, Prairie Oat Growers Association, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, Alberta Wheat Commission, Manitoba Crop Alliance, Mustard 21 and Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR).
The announcement of the funding also stated that support for these and other ADF projects, are awarded each year on a competitive basis to researchers focusing on areas of importance to Saskatchewan agriculture producers and industry partners.
What’s the process of deciding which research projects, should receive funding from ADF, for the year?
The selection is made by a committee which we call the ADF Advisory Committee and it’s made up of producers and experts around the province that we’ve appointed to this board, because we know the research projects always get over subscribed, and there’s probably hundreds of projects that were submitted and narrowed down to 55.
It takes a lot of reading, a lot of work, and I wanted to take the opportunity to really thank all the members of the committee. It really takes it away from a government point of view, and really puts it on what the priorities are of the agriculture industry, here in the province of Saskatchewan and what their concerns are.
How has science helped improve crop yields over the last 50 and 100 years?
Well if you go back that far and want to go back that far, you just need to look at where lentils came from, lentils came from the university as well. There’s things like that, but if you look at different varieties of grains, durum is a good example where they’ve come up with a new varieties and higher proteins.
Even on the lentil side, the canola side, just about all of them, they’ve improved disease tolerance, drought tolerance, higher yielding, higher proteins. Things like that, it’s incredible what’s been done at the research centre there. Over the last 30 to 40 years it’s been incredible with the changes we’ve seen, and even the different types of crops that have come out of there as well.
Why is it important for Canada’s future to continue crop research?
It’s really important, seeing that we are obviously an exporting province. We have a gross target for 2030 to get to 45 million metric tons of production, you’re going to do that in collaboration with research. You’ll find new ways of crop rotation, new ways of inter-cropping, you’re going to find new varieties of higher yielding and what it really comes down to then, is us as the government, to work with the Ag industry and promote that on a global base.
You work with our trading partners and our business community around the world to show them what we have, and that’s really what it comes down to. At the end of the day our global customer is looking at wanting higher proteins, wanting consistency, wanting this and wanting that. That’s where it comes to planning and working with the researchers to find that, and work with both the customer and the researcher, and at the end of the day the primary producer who’s going to produce this crop, because he or she sees a higher return for their product.