International farmers open their eyes in Alberta

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Tour of the province includes a produce market integrated into a Calgary condo project and examples of high production despite a short growing season and -40°C winters

Producers from countries from Australia to Zimbabwe recently visited Alberta as part of an international program that helps farmers learn about how agriculture is done around the world.

“It’s not that we can take everything and try to implement it in our country, but it just triggers, you know, pushing that thinking forward,” said Ranga Huruba, chief operating officer at Shangani Holistic Ranch. in Zimbabwe.

As part of a group representing eight countries, Huruba visited farms and agribusinesses in Alberta as part of Nuffield Canada’s Global Focus program, part of Nuffield International. Branches in member countries offer scholarships of up to $25,000, allowing recipients to see first-hand how farming is done in different parts of the world.

Steve Laroque, an agricultural advisor and producer from Three Hills, Alberta, is a member of the Nuffield Canada Board of Directors. He said the big picture globally is about realizing how policies can create barriers that prevent farmers from reaching their full potential.

Huruba said Africa has the potential to feed the world, but he was impressed with Alberta’s current success.

” We have [Africa] we have very good soils and our climate is not that bad,” he said, highlighting what Alberta farmers have achieved with a shorter growing season and -40°C winters – levels of production that are “unprecedented when you come to Africa”.

Laroque helped guide the group of scholars from Nuffield through Alberta, where they visited operations as varied as a vegetable grower and bison ranch, a honey producer and a cow-calf operation. Huruba remarked “there is a lot of innovation around your farming systems – people are free to think, explore and push boundaries.”

Fellows also visited the Sunterra Market at the Keynote condo complex in Calgary. It is part of an Alberta chain of European-style grocery stores owned by the Sunterra Group, which controls businesses across a wide range of the province’s agri-food industry.

Facilities include a new 20-acre, high-tech greenhouse that grows tomatoes and strawberries in Acme, Alberta. As part of their visit to the greenhouse, the researchers were able to see firsthand how the Sunterra group grows these products to sell in its stores.

Such vertical integration is unusual in the agriculture industry, said Glen Price, co-owner and president of Sunterra Quality Food Markets Inc. “I would say we are unique in that we have all aspects of production, processing and retail. »

Huruba said he found the Alberta tour to be a positive experience

Policies and legislation help make agricultural innovation possible in Alberta, he said. “I think you guys are aware, you’re ahead on that, and that’s something I take away from what I’ve been through.”

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