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Strong collaboration now means strong, sustainable crops for the future

 

Brent Collins, Head of Canola Seeds – North America

For close to a year, we’ve witnessed numerous times when the world has worked together for the common good in an inspiring way, from staying home during lockdowns to the healthcare industry collaborating on vaccine development.

 

These are extraordinary circumstances, but they remind us that while competition does drive innovation, collaboration solves major world challenges. In agriculture, game-changing innovation is constantly in the works, in the seeds industry in particular. But it’s often happening in siloes, preventing more people from benefitting from it sooner.

 

Now, we’re changing that. Four individual Canadian organizations – the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA), the Canadian Seed Institute (CSI), the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC) and the Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA) – have come together, marking an exciting new milestone in the sustainable agriculture journey.

 

I’m proud to hold a board seat in this new organization, which will inject new energy into this industry. It will accelerate much-needed innovation – and people in Canada and around the globe will reap the long-term benefits.

Putting agricultural innovation on the fast track

The seed industry is a critical one. High-quality seeds and plant breeding allows us to further adapt to the impacts of climate change, capture export opportunities, drive growth for Canadian farmers, and grow food sustainably.

 

At the same time, we’re up against challenges that are preventing us from reaching our full potential. The process for bringing new innovations to market is difficult and costly. This can discourage small innovators who have big ideas, and prevent farmers from actually participating in the process of sector innovation. The industry also faces an outdated and unpredictable regulatory system, inconsistent availability of information about seed varieties, and more.

 

With the newly formed Seeds Canada, we can take on these challenges with a harmonized approach. This is about finding smarter, more strategic ways to deliver value together, and ultimately building a more successful, modern, prosperous and resilient seed value-chain.

 

Crucially, farmers, seed companies, analysts and plant breeders, among others, will all have a seat at the table and equal voice. A third of the board members are farmers themselves, which is critical, since these farmers are ultimately the people who turn seed innovation into the crops that drive our economy and feed the world.

 

Together, we’ll now have a unified voice for advocacy, plus seed testing and quality assurance. In other words, we’re removing the barriers that have slowed innovation – giving Canada even stronger footing on the global stage.

Canada is ready to lead on seeds

One the most immediate and exciting opportunities for Canada to lead in 2021 and beyond is on commercializing hybrid wheat.

 

Wheat is a critical crop in Canada, but in recent years, farmers have had to contend with severe weather conditions, disease and pests, among other challenges. This is one of the reasons BASF has been committed to investing in hybrid wheat, which can offer consistently higher yields and more resilient crops.

 

Backed by a strong history as a leader in wheat, Canada has provided the perfect backyard for hybrid wheat development. In 2016, we opened our Hybrid Wheat Breeding station in Saskatchewan, a global hub for shared resources and technology.

 

Wheat breeding in Canada has been taking place for decades, and we are eager to join the industry in collaboration through Seeds Canada to help bring the next evolution of bred wheat to market. With one organization adjudicating how this innovation comes to the market, we’ll be able to get hybrid wheat off the ground much faster – which means Canada, and the world, will see the benefits faster, too.

 

And hybrid wheat is just one area in which the Canadian seed industry can lead the way globally. I’m excited to witness the countless other innovations sure to come to fruition faster than ever under Seeds Canada’s stewardship.

 

Opportunities like this don’t come around often, and I’m excited that I can be a part of this important new organization – especially at a time when taking action together for the common good is so critical.