Research key to leadership in agriculture

In the past few weeks, prime minister Stephen Harper met with a number of his counterparts to discuss trade issues at the G-20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia. Presented at the conference was the Canada Growth Strategy document, which highlighted the need to remove barriers for both internal and international trade.

The prime minister also took the opportunity to advance Canada’s position as a leading trade nation in agricultural goods, while stressing the need to minimize inter-provincial trade barriers and make it easier for Canadian farmers to sell products without unnecessary red tape.

The announcement of the Canada Growth Strategy followed discussions from the G20 agricultural chief scientists meeting in June 2014, where a communiqué was released recognizing the importance of agricultural research and a definition of priorities.

The June meeting further highlighted the need to broker partnerships and to share knowledge in the interest of our continued growth. By responding to the international need for further research co-operation and agricultural policy development, Canada can continue to be a leader in the agricultural community.

This is where a national policy on agricultural research would go a long way in helping to set long-term objectives, developing models for the funding of research, as well as helping to establish guidelines for partnerships between private and public sector stakeholders.

Canada has always been a leader in agricultural innovation and production. We are recognized for our crops and resources, for the quality of our products as well as for the innovation and the science that supports our agricultural system.

Through 2015, the Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC) will be undertaking the creation of a national agricultural research policy. A conference will be held this spring to discuss its development.

In preparation, AIC will be conducting consultations with members and stakeholders, including re-searchers, commodity groups and provincial and federal government representatives on what should be included in a national policy on agricultural research.

A unified, national policy will help advance linkages to international policies, priorities and co-operation and examine methods to ensure that we continue to foster the development of the researchers. With more educational facilities and experimental farm experts retiring, there is a surge in the need for qualified investments in the research funding models to ensure continuance in the research projects currently underway.

To further the continuation of the current and historical research projects, the Agricultural Institute of Canada is also endeavoring to create a centralized database for Canadian agricultural research and researchers. It is crucial for researchers across all sectors to have access to information about the work being done in their field, as well as in related fields such as health, food safety, and the environment.

This directory will help facilitate co-ordinated research, as well as the development of strategic alliances and collaborations that are difficult to organize.

With the vast agricultural issues and opportunities that Canada faces, the need for a national policy on agricultural research has become apparent.

Increasing research and funding in the agricultural field has been proven to make a significant contribution to increasing agricultural productivity. Increasing productivity, while protecting the environment and adapting to climate change, requires deliberate, forward-thinking investments in agricultural research and development, the application of science-based and information technologies, and adoption of supportive government policies.

We invite all interested stakeholders to join the discussion and help us shape the direction and mandate of a national Canadian policy on agricultural research. With your help and involvement, we can ensure the positive direction of our national mandate and its application to all impacted fields.

For more information, visit www.aic.ca.

Madi Murariu-Rougier is with the

Agricultural Institute of Canada.

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