The newly launched Global Institute for Food Security, based at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, is a well-timed project.
The Economist's second annual Feeding the World summit is scheduled for Jan. 30 in Amsterdam, bringing together a group of industry leaders, government ministers, aid agencies and research representatives to discuss how to tackle the planet's food security crisis.
It's a pressing issue. The world's population is projected to reach nine billion by 2050, and a United Nations report has said farmers will have to produce 70 per cent more food in order to feed all those people. That makes the focus of the new centre in Saskatoon all the more relevant. Figures from Statistics Canada indicate that Canada is one of the world's top food producers, ranking eighth in production of cereals, including wheat, barley and oats in 2004, as well as 10th in meat production and 19th in fisheries and aquaculture production. Saskatchewan is also a leading exporter of canola, flax, mustard and lentils.
Devising ways to help Canada boost its food production is one of the key aims of the food security institute, which will deal with all areas of the food supply chain from increasing crop yields to examining government agricultural policies.
"The demand is very much global and the need for much more food production is global," Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said in a Canadian Press story about the launch of the institute. "One of the leading ways that we're going to have fill that need is through additional research and development."
Bill Doyle, president and CEO of Saskatoon-based PotashCorp, which is putting up most of the funding for the institute, told the Canadian Press there are about two million malnourished people in the world and there's great pressure on the food supply, "so there's a lot of work to be done."
The new food security institute should be well positioned to take on some of that work. Research to help boost food production will not only benefit Canada but other countries, especially developing nations where increasing agricultural production is particularly crucial to feed an increasing population. Projections say it's in developing countries that almost all of the global population increase will occur.
Saskatoon's Global Institute for Food Security has an important role to play in dealing with the growing food crisis.
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