$50 million for food security institute
The Province of Saskatchewan, the University of Saskatchewan, and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (PotashCorp) have formally launched the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) to develop Saskatchewan-led solutions to feed a growing world population.
With initial commitments of up to CDN $35-million from PotashCorp and CDN $15-million from the province over the next seven years, the institute will apply Saskatchewan’s unique resources, innovation and expertise to address the increasing global demand for safe, reliable food.
“The plan for growth positions Saskatchewan as a global leader in food security and innovation by 2020,” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said. “Advancing Saskatchewan’s agricultural advantage allows us to significantly increase the global food supply — our moral obligation as a good global citizen — while building the next economy, an innovation economy, here at home.”
PotashCorp’s investment represents the largest donation in the company’s history and reflects its deep commitment to food security. The donation is one of the largest corporate donations for university research in Canada.
“Food security remains our biggest challenge as populations increase and diets change, putting immense strain on food production,” said Bill Doyle, President and CEO of PotashCorp. “We need to help farmers around the world produce more food, ensure it’s safe and nutritious, and get it efficiently to those who need it. As the world’s largest producer of crop nutrients, supporting food production is a mandate for our company and we believe this institute can play an important role in improving global food security.”
The institute will be based at the University of Saskatchewan, a world-renowned centre of excellence in agriculture and food-system related research.
“Over the past century, the University of Saskatchewan has led far-sighted research and innovation to help grow a province and feed a growing nation. Now, through this innovative partnership and its bold vision, we will build on our strengths and provide new research solutions across the food supply system to help feed a growing world,” said U of S President Dr. Ilene Busch-Vishniac.
“This collaborative institute will create unique opportunities for cutting-edge science and policy research that will attract top faculty and students and put Saskatchewan on the global map for food security research.”
The institute will build on Saskatchewan’s existing strength in crop production systems through new investments in technological, economic, nutritional and environmental improvements to the food supply system at home and around the world.
It will take a strategic approach to the food supply system — for example, breeding for higher yield, improved nutrition and better processing traits, looking at how soil quality affects the nutritional value of crops, and adapting prairie zone crops to available soil and water.
With today’s complex global food system, the research leadership the new institute will provide is urgently needed to develop not just the new science and technologies to increase food production and nutrition, but to impact the policy agenda so that changes can take place to improve how the various parts of the food system interact.
Focusing on crops grown in Saskatchewan as well as those grown in many other parts of the world such as wheat, lentils, peas and canola — essential sources of food for a significant portion of the world’s population — the institute will develop transferable solutions that can be applied to relevant regions and partnerships around the world.
The partners have signed a memorandum of agreement outlining the institute’s mandate, funding, structure and governance. A search for the institute’s initial Executive Director and CEO is underway.