The Agri-Value Forum and Networking Event was on April 27, 2023. It is hosted by the Government of Saskatchewan as a unique opportunity for the Saskatchewan agri-value community to learn from local, national, and international speakers. If facilitates networking among experts, Agri-processors, researchers, government, and other industry leaders. The day consisted of hearing from Dr. David Hughes of the Imperial College London, a panel discussion from perspective funders and VC firms, Dana McCauley of CFIN, a panel on how to keep your company competitive with sustainable strategies, CAP program update, and a keynote from Lee Jeyes - 🎤 🚀 🌎 - 🎤 🚀 🌎 the former head of Innovation at Walmart Canada. This day was proudly supported by Ag-West Bio, Prairies Economic Development Canada I Développement économique Canada pour les Prairies, Innovation Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership, FCC / FAC.
Our CEO Jay Robinson alongside our Program and Partnerships Manager, Susan Jorgensen were able to attend the event. Read below to see their highlights and key takeaways. Joanne Baczuk of Ag-West Bio also shared her thoughts on the day. Jay Robinson, CEO GAAP
“It is always a highlight when so many stakeholders of the sector come together to have candid discussions and share learnings and insights into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. GAAP is privileged to be a part of this event and work alongside such great colleagues and people.
This year was no different, and there were some key takeaways about how the sector is addressing the hurdles and potential outcomes presented by the growing demand for sustainable and regenerative farming.
It seems apparent that consumers are continuing to lobby for sustainable production and regenerative farming practices even without full understanding or appreciation for what this actually means. The real risk is that governments both around the world and here at home begin to implement and enforce policies to thrust these agenda’s forward even in the absence of solid science or accepted common practice.
It was clear that in order for this to become more mainstream while also maintaining authenticity and value, the entire supply chain will need to come to a consensus on what are and are not accepted and approved practices for sustainable and/or regenerative agriculture. Furthermore, they will need to agree to a clearly defined framework and structure that brings validity to the concept across the value chain much in the same way that the US National Organic Program or Organic Materials Review Institute has set about to do.
The good news is that growers and farmers across the country and particularly in the prairies have been some of the most progressive globally, and major sustainable practices such as zero-till farming are already commonplace. It was exciting to hear that other industry participants and farmers are continuing to dial in their practices and product offerings with the aim to improve the metrics between regenerative agriculture and economic return and from what we see at GAAP, science and innovation will be the key to unlocking this potential in the not-too-distant future.
Our ecosystem has some fantastic incentives to encourage blue-sky thinking and the commercialization of such innovations, and we are excited to see the sector progress." Thank you to Ag-West Bio and the Government of Saskatchewan.
Susan Jorgensen, Program and Partnerships Manager GAAP “The Agri-Value Forum brought together a wide range of agri-food sector members for a day of learning, conversation, and networking. Over the course of the day, a common theme emphasized the tremendous opportunity Saskatchewan has as a global food-producing powerhouse. Climate-change, conflict, and rising food costs are significant challenges to the food system, at home and abroad. Fortunately, Saskatchewan producers are no strangers to adversity, and have a knack for seeing obstacles as opportunities and creating game-changing solutions. Attendees were encouraged to find new ways to work together to champion home-grown innovation to build global recognition for Saskatchewan’s progressive food ecosystem.“
Joanne Baczuk, CTP, Director of Ecosystem Development Ag-West Bio “Dr David Hughes’ (Dr. Food) presentation was excellent. He mentioned that nothing we have experienced over the last few years is “unprecedented”; it has all happed before. He encouraged everyone to check out the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report. The panel discussions focused on ESG (from an investor perspective) and Sustainability Strategies (from a business perspective). They highlighted the level of unknowns we face in terms of future requirements. It felt like everyone was seeking clarity on this topic, given the high risk and uncertainty involved. The theme of the day was sustainability, which will drive focus in the coming year(s). What is discussed becomes noticed. Hopefully, this will set a focal point for both industry and government. It was mentioned that no single organization can solve this problem alone, and no one should work in isolation. Lee Jeyes - 🎤 🚀 🌎 Keynote address was all about innovation. It was thought provoking from a leadership and transformational change perspective.
From my perspective, the best part of the event was the networking. I have new Prairie Food Link members as a result of discussions and a few good leads on future presentations."
Agri-Value Forum brings together government, academia, and industry members to share their knowledge on relevant agri-food topics and gain opportunities to network with peers from across the province.