Sustainable food & agriculture pathways at the heart of new partnership between UFV and the University of Guelph
A new partnership has launched between two of Canada’s leading agri-food research universities – the University of the Fraser Valley and the University of Guelph. Together, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at advancing new pathways for sustainable innovation within Canada’s $140 billion food and agriculture industry.
The agreement names long-time collaborators Dr. Evan Fraser, Director of the Arrell Food Institute (AFI) at the University of Guelph and Dr. Lenore Newman, Director of the Agriculture and Food Institute (FAI) at the University of the Fraser Valley as co-leaders of the partnership.
First priorities will include the establishment of accelerator workshops, national network of ag tech players, and funding research and development to scale new innovations into the marketplace.
In the face of ever-growing climate concerns, yearly food waste contributing up to 9.8 million tonnes of CO2, nearly 1 in 5 Canadians being food insecure, and the impending shortage of skilled agricultural workers, decision makers worldwide are recognizing the key role local and global food systems can play in generating lasting solutions. The solutions needed are too big for any one group to find alone, so this collegial approach will bring together expertise from across the food system and beyond. Solutions will highlight Canada’s sustainable leadership while increasing competitiveness, profitability and national food/nutrition security.
“The Food and Agriculture Institute is excited to join forces with AFI to support the ambitious goal of supporting the development of Canada’s agricultural technology ecosystem,” says Newman.
“Food security is a critical element of national security, and home-grown technology is a keystone.”
AFI and FAI are working together to better understand food system topics and be part of the conversation toward a more sustainable future of food. The most recent and ongoing project, Feeding the Future with Canadian Technology, navigates building a pan-Canadian agricultural technology strategy by consulting with Canadians across the agri-food value chain. This cooperation opens new avenues for collaboration, including access to a rich cross section of agri-food expertise on the west coast and shared resources to help propel scientific research to practical food system solutions across Canada – an extremely important partnership, according to Ocean Spray Chairman and Richberry Group CEP Peter Dhillon.
“Agricultural technology is essential to Canada’s food security and we are at a critical point where we must secure and increase the global food supply,” says Dhillon, who is also a UFV honorary degree recipient.
“Close collaboration between applied university research and industry is essential to supercharge the innovation ecosystem”
Fraser agrees, seeing the new agreement as a way to support food security for years to come.
“One aspect of this partnership that I am so excited about is the potential to develop a national training platform to inspire and equip the next generation of leaders to help propel Canada on the world stage in terms of being the world leader in the production of safe, healthy and sustainable food,” he says. . “This MOU reflects hopeful and fruitful future collaborations which will forge new opportunities to make strides toward solving Canada’s food sustainability challenge.”
This new agreement will create collaborative new pathways to co-create made-in-Canadian agri-food innovations that bring solution-oriented technologies to the forefront and into mainstream market adoption. Collaborative efforts will be able to be made in the areas of knowledge-sharing, financing proposal development, education and training programs, technology assessment, and expanding access to commercialization services, on-farm and in-lab testing and trials.
“I see this MOU as a timely and exciting alignment between two vital nodes of expertise on agriculture and the future of food. From training, to applied research, and work on policy, this is the moment to take a national approach that will position to be a global agri-food powerhouse,” says Rene Van Acker, Vice President Research at University of Guelph.
Van Acker’s sentiments are supported by Garry Fehr, UFV’s Associate Vice President, Research.
“In today’s world, developing the agricultural technology ecosystem requires national cooperation. Partnerships such as these can benefit local farmers and agribusinesses locally and right across the country,” says Fehr.
Industry leaders are equally excited about the prospect of the new agreement between UFV and the University of Guelph.
“Abbotsford Tech District is excited by this national initiative, proud to be early financial supporters, and confident the Guelph region and Fraser Valley region have key roles to play in our nation’s food innovation and food security” offers Gavin Dew, Chief Strategy Officer, Abbotsford Tech District.
“Coming from the private sector, one of the things I love about Lenore and Evan is that they understand that smart policy and grounded innovation has to go from classrooms and labs into the commercial world in order to make a big impact.”
About Arrell Food Institute
Arrell Food Institute brings people together to conduct research, train the next generation of food leaders and shape social, industrial, and governmental decisions, always ensuring food is the central priority.
About Food and Agriculture Institute
The Food and Agriculture Institute (FAI) at the University of the Fraser Valley is an interdisciplinary research centre that focuses on issues, challenges, and sustainability solutions related to food and farm systems.
For further info contact:
Darren McDonald, MA
Acting Director, Communications
University of the Fraser Valley
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