As American environmental analyst and founder of the Worldwatch Institute, Lester R. Brown so clearly puts in in his book Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble, it is expected that by the year 2050, Canada will be one of the only 6 countries exporting food. 1 Similarly, Karin Wittenberg, University of Manitoba’s Dean of Research in the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, perceives the Prairies as being the apex of a rising global demand for food, energy and protein.
In an attempt to address the need for unity, governance and leadership within Canada’s agri-food industry, the rural community of Olds with just under 9000 people are driving a collective entity —The Global Agri-Business Commons (GABC). For this central Albertan town, the future of agri-business involves 3 pillars of action: engaging a new generation of agricultural entrepreneurs, increasing food safety and prioritizing research and innovation to address the industry’s accelerated change. Spearheaded by Olds College, a leading post-secondary institution renowned for its agricultural curriculum, the Global Agri-Business Commons is a concept for an entity that currently involves municipality leaders, private sector firms, not-for-profit and government organizations and the dedication of private citizens.
The idea is to create a storefront for businesses and entrepreneurs to conduct and disseminate applied research as well as invest in youth engagement and leverage the work of a community-based infrastructure. Professor David Sparling from Western University’s Ivey Business School in Ontario thinks that a redistribution of government funding that favours research and trade development can reshape Canada’s agri-food industry to embody sustainability and global leadership.3 The Global Agri-Business Commons would not only place Alberta on the map as a major agricultural and food production jurisdiction, but also strengthen technology, business, research and the community as a coordinated entity of collaboration and innovation.
For more info, Dr. H.J. Tom Thompson, President of Olds College can be reached at [email protected]