June 18, 2013 11:28 am
Updated: September 18, 2013 2:42 pm

Canada’s potential to feed the world focus of Breadbasket summit

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SASKATOON – Agriculture leaders from around the world have gathered in Saskatoon for a two-day summit to discuss crop innovation and global food security.

The Canadian prairies are central to global grain production, known to some as “The Bread Basket of the World.”

According to Canada’s Public Policy Forum President and CEO David Mitchell, there’s no better place to hold the event.

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“We’re here in Saskatoon which is really the centre of agricultural innovation with the university here and being in the heartland of the Prairie provinces it probably couldn’t happen anywhere else,” he said.

“We have a role, some would say even an obligation to help feed growing populations, especially in developing countries and our productive capacity is really untapped, we have the ability some would estimate to feed another billion people from the crop capacity right here in the prairie provinces,” he added.

The Breadbasket 2.0 National Summit brings together producers, government and industry leaders as well as academic and agricultural experts from around the world to discuss major issues impacting crop production as well as scientific advances in the prairies.

“Producers and individuals in the room here today are feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders as we continue to talk about world food demand,” said Cherilyn Nagel, past president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association.

“We need some wheat innovation, we need some more research involved in productivity and profitability to continue to encourage producers to grow it,” she added.

Dr. Alex McCalla, a professor in Emeritus, Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis and key speakers at the summit says food security needs a collaborative approach.

“It seems to me that there’s a lot of issues that require global attention, trade is one, intellectual property rights is another, international management of things like climate change, these all require collective action, Canada can’t do it by itself, neither can the US neither can China,” said McCalla.

The outcomes of the summit will be delivered to key stakeholders including governments, the private sector and researchers through a series of executive briefings in fall 2013.

A series of recommendations will also be put forward to policy makers about what changes need to be made.

“The world’s population doubled between 1960 and 2000, we did that by increasing productivity and yields and it’s going to increase another 2.6 billion between now and 2050,” said McCalla.

“The challenge is how do we increase the productivity of cereal production because cereal still remains the largest single source of calories for the world’s population,” he added.

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