B.C.’s Food Security Task Force has provided recommendations to government outlining new ways to use technology and innovation to strengthen B.C.’s economy and the agriculture sector, today and for generations to come.
“The recommendations released today by the Food Security Task Force will help grow more food and more jobs in B.C.’s strong agriculture sector,” said Premier John Horgan. “By embracing innovation and using new technologies, we can make sure our province is supplying a bounty of delicious and affordable food to people for generations to come. I thank the members of the task force for their work on this important report.”
The task force’s findings include:
- applying the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals to agricultural policies;
- establishing an incubation/acceleration strategy for B.C.’s agritech sector;
- creating an agriculture and agritech institute in B.C. in partnership with post-secondary institutions; and
- reviewing land-use planning policies and regulations to ensure B.C.’s agritech sector has a place to grow.
“Our government recognizes the tremendous potential of applying new technologies to agriculture to help strengthen the sector,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Targeted initiatives, such as the Agritech Innovation Challenge, ongoing connections with major strategic agritech cluster areas, regional food innovation hubs and cost-shared funding through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership align with the recommendations of the task force and will help the agriculture industry continue to thrive in British Columbia.”
The three-member task force was led by Peter Dhillon as chair, with Arvind Gupta and Lenore Newman. The task force was mandated to make recommendations that support food security and the economic growth of B.C.’s agricultural sector, focusing on the following three areas:
- Using technology and innovation to increase competitiveness, efficiency and profitability.
- Growing the agritech industry as a standalone economic sector capable of developing technologies that will be applicable both locally and globally.
- Supporting the development and application of technologies that can protect the industry against the effects of climate change and support environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.
Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO, Innovate BC, participated on the task force as an ex-officio member.
“We are excited to have the report released to the public and hope that British Columbians will take an interest in thinking about how the future of our food system has significant potential to provide a consistent, high-quality and affordable supply of food anywhere in the province, all year round,” said Dhillon. “Our recommendations are intended to build on B.C.’s bold leadership in protecting the environment and help increase food security in the face of climate change.”
From July 11 to Oct. 15, 2019, British Columbians were invited to share their views on ways in which B.C. can harness new technologies and innovations to efficiently produce more food, jobs and prosperity, while reducing waste. Almost 450 people, ranging from farmers, consumers and others involved in the industry, participated in the online survey. The task force also met in-person with over 100 people from the agriculture industry, as well as the business and academic communities in B.C. and elsewhere. This input was considered as part of the task force’s final report.
“Technology opens up exciting possibilities for the future of food production in B.C.,” said Michelle Mungall, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness. “With a strong tech sector and top-notch talent, we are well positioned to develop solutions that advance agriculture in our province and enhance economic prosperity for everyone.”
- The 2019 speech from the throne mentioned the B.C. government would launch a food security task force to consider how B.C. can harness new technologies and innovation to produce more food, jobs and prosperity, while reducing waste.
- Dhillon is active in several business enterprises, including serving as the CEO of the Richberry Group of Companies, an agribusiness enterprise with operations in British Columbia and Quebec.
- Gupta is a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto and at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He has served as president and vice-chancellor of UBC, and as the CEO and scientific director of Mitacs Inc.
- Newman is the director of the Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) where she holds a Canada Research Chair in food security and environment. She is an associate professor in the department of geography and the environment at UFV and a member of the Royal Society of Canada's New College of Scholars.
Food Security Task Force Report: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/impact/food-security-task-force-results/