GIFS reaches new funding deal

Founded in 2012 as a public-private partnership, GIFS was created to build on Saskatchewan's strengths in agriculture and innovation to deliver technological, economic, nutritional and environmental improvements to the global food production system. | Screencap via gifs.ca/David Stobbe

The Global Institute for Food Security in Saskatoon recently reconfirmed a memorandum of understanding with partners and secured additional funding.

GIFS has secured additional funding with cash and in-kind contributions coming from the province, the University of Saskatchewan and corporate partner Nutrien.

In a Sept 23 interview, GIFS declined to share details of the new funding agreement, which includes contributions from the private and public sectors.

In a subsequent email, Nutrien confirmed that it will provide $1 million in future funds to the institute. That funding is on top of the $35 million that was already provided by PotashCorp.

Nutrien, a global supplier of crop nutrients based in Saskatoon, was formed through a merger of Agrium and PotashCorp.

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Agriculture, meanwhile, previously agreed to provide $3 million in yearly operational funding to GIFS over two years.

"Since 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture has provided $18 million to support GIFS operations," the province said in an email.

"The funding referenced (recently) by GIFS is not new funding, but reaffirms the Government of Saskatchewan's existing commitment to provide $3 million in yearly operational funding to GIFS over the next two years."

Details on the financial and in-kind contributions from the University of Saskatchewan have not been made public.

GIFS officials said the renewed MOU and funding agreement will support the institute's next phase of growth and its new corporate strategy.

Chief executive officer Steve Webb said the institute is aiming to gradually reduce reliance on outside funding sources while continuing to conduct research and deliver innovative solutions that enhance global food security.

"At GIFS, we have a bold vision of a world where everyone has access to safe and nutritious food, and

Saskatchewan's thriving agri-food ecosystem has the building blocks to help make this vision a reality," Webb said.

"We are grateful to Nutrien, the Government of Saskatchewan and … (the University of Saskatchewan) for their confidence in GIFS, their renewal of our …(agreement) and their continued support and financial commitment to our vision, which we are bringing to life through our various initiatives focused on making food production more sustainable."

Founded in 2012 as a public-private partnership, GIFS was created to build on Saskatchewan's strengths in agriculture and innovation to deliver technological, economic, nutritional and environmental improvements to the global food production system.

Nutrien, a global supplier of crop nutrients, said its investment in GIFS will support the development of valuable agricultural technologies that enable economically, environmentally and socially sustainable food production.

"Achieving global food security is central to Nutrien's purpose … and the Global Institute for Food Security is doing incredibly important work in this area," said Nutrien president and chief executive Mayo Schmidt.

"Saskatchewan is one of the world's strongest agri-science ecosystems, and we're proud to partner with GIFS, the province and the University of Saskatchewan to help bring innovations to market that will help farmers succeed in sustainably feeding a growing planet…."

Current initiatives underway at GIFS include research aimed at boosting photosynthesis, the process by which plants use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into energy and food.

To accommodate the institute's growth, GIFS has also relocated to a new facility that contains twice as much laboratory space and three times as much capacity in plant growth facilities, including greenhouses and growth chambers.

GIFS said the new space will allow the institute to consolidate office functions and research facilities at one location.

GIFS was established nearly a decade ago with a funding commitment of $50 million over seven years, including $15 million from the province and $35 million from the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PotashCorp).

Nutrien was formed in 2018 through a merger of Agrium and PotashCorp.

Contact brian.cross@producer.com

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