Local organizations are partnering with the federal and provincial governments to develop innovative ways to save pollinators and combat food waste in British Columbia.
While honeybees play a key role in agriculture, various diseases and pests have threatened Canada’s honeybee population in recent decades. In a previous project, the University of British Columbia (UBC) developed a tool to identify and breed bees with enhanced resistance to disease. Building upon its earlier work, UBC has initiated a new project to develop a probiotic treatment to control disease. The practical knowledge from this research will give beekeepers better tools to treat and monitor hive health, strengthening the honeybee population further.
This project is just one of a number of research projects that UBC is partnering with the federal and provincial governments on, to help farmers, growers, producers and processors become more competitive.
Another project by Vancouver-based network FoodMesh will help reduce the amount of useable food making its way to the landfill each year.
FoodMesh matches demand and supply more efficiently to reduce food wasted along the supply chain. The network consists of investors, businesses, growers, processors and charity organizations working with the shared goal of reducing the amount of usable food ending up in landfills each year. This social enterprise will better connect B.C. producers to new economic prospects by including access to animal feed and new markets for unsold food products.
The UBC and FoodMesh projects highlight a small sample of the 20 innovative ideas that B.C.-based organizations are working on to build a more sustainable future, with nearly $1.5 million in funding from the Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation Program under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The partnership is a five-year federal-provincial-territorial agreement that includes $2 billion in cost-shared strategic initiatives delivered by the provinces and territories, and $1 billion for federal programs and services through March 2023.
Lawrence MacAulay, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food —
“Our government is proud to invest in solutions that will help producers in British Columbia address agriculture’s challenges. These innovative projects will strengthen the sector and reflect our commitment to advance innovation in agriculture while creating good middle-class jobs for Canadians.”
Lana Popham, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture —
“It’s always amazing, but never surprising, to see the innovative work that organizations are doing to create a more sustainable future. The work that UBC and FoodMesh are doing reflects the spirit of the Canada-B.C. agri-innovation program to ‘enhance competitiveness, sustainability, productivity and resiliency.’”
Leonard Foster, professor, University of British Columbia —
“This funding has helped us to take made-in-B.C. research findings and help industry apply them in a remarkably short timeframe. By fostering closer links between UBC researchers and bee breeders, this opportunity has also led to additional research projects.”
Jessica Regan, CEO, FoodMesh —
“We are delighted to be working with the Canadian Agricultural Partnership in this exciting endeavour to help streamline how food businesses recover food. Our pilot project is designed to help grocery retailers safely divert their perishables to higher end uses such as local charities and farmers. In three months, we have successfully diverted over 35,000 kilograms of edible food, helping create 21,000 meals and access to quality animal feed for hobby farmers. The future impact of this work will help reduce needless wasted food, feed more and save money for farmers and food businesses.”
- Honeybee crop pollination contributes to the production of $470 million to the B.C. economy ($250 million in field crops and $220 million in greenhouse crops), and over $2 billion across Canada.
- It is estimated that 40% of food in Canada is never eaten, costing Canadians approximately $31 billion a year.
To read the May 22, 2018, news release announcing funding, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018AGRI0032-000974
For more information on the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/canada-bc-agri-innovation
For more information on how to apply to the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program, visit: www.iafbc.ca/funding-opportunities/innovation/
For more information on the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, visit: www.agr.gc.ca/eng/about-us/key-departmental-initiatives/canadian-agricultural-partnership/?id=1461767369849
For more information on research at UBC, visit: https://research.ubc.ca/
For more information on FoodMesh, visit: https://foodmesh.ca/
A backgrounder follows.