FarmAid: How Alberta’s Farmers, Entrepreneurs and Innovators Can Help Feed the World, Alberta Venture magazine, April 2012
Alberta Venture magazine, April 2012 issue / Agriculture / Jennifer Cockrall-King
Project: Transform Alberta – How Alberta’s Farmers, Entrepreneurs and Innovators Can Help Feed the World
On October 31, 2011, the global population reached seven billion. It’s predicted to grow by another two billion by 2050. At this rate, we’ll have to grow and raise more food in the next 50 years than we’ve produced cumulatively over the past 10,000
In the chill of the spring dawn, an Alberta livestock farmer waits nervously for a pregnant cow to give birth. As soon as she does, the farmer swabs the inside of the newborn’s cheek. The sample is quickly shipped to a lab in Edmonton where the calf’s DNA is extracted and analyzed. Three weeks later, the farmer knows if the calf has won the genetic lottery. Does it have the genes to make it a great producer of milk? If it’s a beef breed, will it produce AAA steak years later? Plainly put, it doesn’t make sense to bring that calf to age if genetics aren’t on its side such that it can be healthy and productive and contribute to a profitable enterprise.
Welcome to the brave new world of farming. Primary agriculture in Alberta is a $7.7-billion industry, with crops accounting for $3.7 billion of that number and livestock bringing in $3.5 billion. But while our role as a volume producer of raw exports may be significant, our greatest contributions to helping solve global hunger could yet be ahead. Perhaps our role in the global food economy will be one of innovation and contributions to technological leaps. This future will be one where soil is enriched with “biochar,” where farmers earn as much through their efforts to offset carbon dioxide emissions as they do from crops, and where every animal is scanned, analyzed and barcoded.
Read the full article on Alberta Venture magazine's website.
In conjunction with this article, I was interviewed by Duncan Kinney at Alberta Venture for a companion podcast to the article.
Podcast: How Can Alberta Help Feed the World?
Project: Transform Alberta is all about addressing big, bold ideas for the province. In this month’s Project: Transform Alberta article Jennifer Cockrall-King explores how over the next century of population growth Alberta’s farms, farmers and innovators could help feed those many mouths.In our podcast we spoke to Cockrall-King about bio-char and growing more farmers and we headed to Delta Genomics and spoke to Colin Coros about the state-of-the-art genomic testing that is helping to build better cows and pigs.