Chief Executive Officer, Agri-Food Innovation Council
With a growing global population and an increased need for food, there must be a greater emphasis on “how to grow food.” With that, innovation becomes a necessity.
The growing speed at which innovation is being introduced in agriculture requires us to carefully analyze the impact on producers, regulators, and consumers. Producers are embracing innovation as it’s enabling them to produce greater yields, be increasingly efficient, and achieve higher returns on investments.
However, the cost of innovation is, occasionally, prohibitive and leaves some producers on the sidelines. While Canada is an innovation leader in the agri-food sector, adoption of innovation is much slower to occur. This isn’t a healthy situation and governments should look at mechanisms to support the adoption of innovations by farmers at a greater pace.
Governments’ ability to keep pace with innovation will also be crucial as the sector adapts. To achieve this, the sector must identify regulatory obstacles and be open to working with the government to find solutions.
Finally, we need to make sure that consumers understand innovation. The romantic picture of the farmer, with a hay straw in his mouth, wearing suspenders and a straw hat, and standing by a nicely-painted red barn is far from the reality.
Robots, drones, iPads, smartphones, and more are key components of modern farming. It’s unclear whether consumers understand the new reality of farming and whether they would embrace it.
It’s essential for the agri-food sector and governments to support campaigns designed to enable consumers to better understand where their food comes from and to know that it’s safer than it has ever been.
Innovation in agriculture presents some challenges but brings with it great opportunities.