Lab Canada

Agricultural research: Alberta tallies up its contributions to economy

Edmonton, AB – The Alberta government says that in 2004, the province’s agricultural sector accounted for $8 billion in farm cash receipts and $10 billion in manufacturing shipments. Alberta, the second largest agricultural producer in Canada, supports these businesses with research and scientific activities to help them grow.

“The past few years have been particularly challenging for agriculture and food producers,” says Dr Mafiz Khan, science policy agrologist with Alberta Agriculture, Edmonton. “Production diversification, new and innovative crop and livestock product development, and product safety have all been high on the research and development agenda.”

“In 2004, a noticeable shift in research activities was seen,” he says. “Changing consumer expectations and market opportunities resulted in greater emphasis being placed on the production of bio-based industrial products, health and wellness products and the introduction of new crops with potential health benefits.”

“The agriculture and food industries are constantly advancing,” he adds. “In keeping with scientific, technological and resource growth and development, Alberta Agriculture invested $11.8 million and close to 136 scientific, professional and technical person-years to research and development, and $16.06 million and approximately 141 person-years to related scientific activities in 2004.”

In the past year, the researchers achieved results that included:

– contributing to 150 value-added products reaching the marketplace and another 125 products with marketing potential;
– contributing to the activity and adoption of new technologies for food processing;
– contributing to the development of analytical methods and generation of agri-food surveillance information for the safety and quality of food products;
– contributing to the development of new and innovative technologies for efficient production of crops and livestock;
– developing methods for humane treatment of animals;
– determining implications of removing specified risk materials from the feed chain;
– helping register and establish the recommended use of 25 cereal and 43 forage varieties;
– developing production practices for plants with functional food/pharmaceutical uses;
– developing better management practices for sustaining and improving the quality of the environment;
– contributing to the climate change and greenhouse gas extension and technology transfer; and
– publishing 101 scientific papers (including 21 in refereed journals) and over 185 technical papers.