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Sask. government says less people interested in agriculture, education priority

Sask. government says less people interested in agriculture, education prior
WATCH ABOVE: The Moose Jaw Food Farm transformed into a pizzaria this morning. All in hopes that feeding young minds will help re-seed Saskatchewan's agricultural interests. Krista Sharpe explains.

The Saskatchewan government said interest in agriculture is decreasing and officials are hoping to turn that around by teaching younger generations about the farm through programs such as Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC).

To help promote the charity program, which provides hands-on agriculture learning opportunities for children, federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAuley and Saskatchewan agriculture minister Lyle Stewart joined local students Thursday morning at the Moose Jaw Food Farm in Moose Jaw, Sask.

The ministers joined the students in different activities, including making pizza to learn where the ingredients come from. The students had topping choices such as cheese, ham, pineapple, mushrooms and green peppers. As the instructor introduced each topping, its origin and growth pattern was explained as well.  Prepared pizza’s were packed into small individual boxes so they could be cooked at home with parental help.

READ MORE: Crops downgraded as harvest continues across Saskatchewan

MacAuley said programs like the AITC help children learn about the farm when they may not have had an opportunity to visit one.

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“As the years go by there seems to be less people with a connection to agriculture,” MacAuley said.

READ MORE: Above average wheat and canola yields expected in Saskatchewan’s harvest

Currently only two per cent of Canada’s population have direct ties to the farm. That’s roughly one in fifty families, according to MacAuley

“Agriculture is a huge part of the economy of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan agriculture has an influence on the economy of Canada as well,” Stewart said.

Sara Shymko, executive director of AITC, said encouraging agriculture-related careers is the end goal, but general education is more appropriate for school-aged children.

READ MORE: Federal government invests over $30M for Swift Current, Sask. agriculture centre

“I think the first step is for them to think agriculture is cool and to think, hey, maybe there’s an opportunity for me here,” Shymko said.

AITC has received nearly $100,000 from the province’s Agriculture Awareness Initiative Program (AAIP).

AAIP provides funding to projects that help tell Saskatchewan’s agriculture story and is a part of the national Growing Forward 2 (GF2) program.

AITC is one of 47 similar programs across the province that have received over $600,000 in government funding since it first launched in 2013.

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