Saskatchewan funnels big bucks into crop research

The province has allocated funding for 30 projects from its Agriculture Development Fund as part of a C$3bn program that is also backed by the federal authorities.

The government of Saskatchewan will be drawing C$7.7 million ($6.1 million; €5.1 million) from its Agriculture Development Fund to invest in 30 crop-related research projects.

The schemes focus on a diverse set of issues important to the province, with the lion’s share allocated to cereals and better disease management. Other examples include research to develop more clubroot-resistant canola; better control of root rot in pea and lentil crops; and increasing the use of fava beans in pet food and fish feed to create another value-added use for a Saskatchewan pulse crop.

“Investing in innovative, crop-related projects and supporting research organizations like the CDC not only provides Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers with the very latest in research and development, but also allows our province to be competitive on the world stage and helps attract some of the best researchers in the industry,” said Saskatchewan agriculture minister Lyle Stewart, referring to the Crop Development Center at the University of Saskatchewan which will receive an additional C$6.25 million in funding from both the provincial and federal governments.

The federal government will contribute 60 percent, while the province will contribute the remaining 40 percent, a spokeswoman for the government of Saskatchewan told Agri Investor.

Additional funding, in the amount of C$3.1 million, has also been committed by non-government partners comprising the Western Grains Research Foundation; the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, the Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission and the Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission.

C$3bn program

According to the government of Saskatchewan, funding for the ADF is part of the C$26.8 million the province committed to agricultural research in the 2017-18 budget, which is provided under Growing Forward 2, an initiative launched in collaboration with federal, provincial and territorial governments. GF2 is a C$3 billion, five-year program that expires on March 31.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership – also a C$3 billion, five-year program – will replace GF2 when it is launched on April 1. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, C$1 billion will go towards funding federal programs, while the remaining C$2 billion will fund cost-shared programs between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments.

“The C$1B in federal funding will be allocated across six programs,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada told Agri Investor, while the cost-shared funding is currently being negotiated among each level of government and will be finalized through bilateral agreements.

The new framework will focus on research and innovation, opening new markets and increasing competition, mitigating the effects of climate change, supporting the continued growth of value-added agriculture and food processing, improving quality assurance and traceability, and supporting effective risk management.

Under the terms of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the federal and provincial government “will invest a total of C$388 million over five years for strategic initiatives for Saskatchewan” on a 60:40 basis, the provincial government’s spokeswoman said.

In 2016, Canada’s agriculture and agri-food system generated C$111.9 billion of gross domestic product and accounted for 6.7 percent of Canada’s total GDP. The sector has also outpaced the overall economy, growing 11 percent between 2012 and 2016 compared with the economy which grew 7.8 percent during that same period, according to the ministry of agriculture.