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FarmAid: How Alberta’s Farmers, Entrepreneurs and Innovators Can Help Feed the World, Alberta Venture magazine, April 2012

Alberta Venture magazine, April 2012 issue / Agriculture / Jennifer Cockrall-King

Project: Transform Alberta – How Alberta’s Farmers, Entrepreneurs and Innovators Can Help Feed the World

On October 31, 2011, the global population reached seven billion. It’s predicted to grow by another two billion by 2050. At this rate, we’ll have to grow and raise more food in the next 50 years than we’ve produced cumulatively over the past 10,000


In the chill of the spring dawn, an Alberta livestock farmer waits nervously for a pregnant cow to give birth. As soon as she does, the farmer swabs the inside of the newborn’s cheek. The sample is quickly shipped to a lab in Edmonton where the calf’s DNA is extracted and analyzed. Three weeks later, the farmer knows if the calf has won the genetic lottery. Does it have the genes to make it a great producer of milk? If it’s a beef breed, will it produce AAA steak years later? Plainly put, it doesn’t make sense to bring that calf to age if genetics aren’t on its side such that it can be healthy and productive and contribute to a profitable enterprise.

Screenshot from / llustration Pierre-Paul Pariseau

Welcome to the brave new world of farming. Primary agriculture in Alberta is a $7.7-billion industry, with crops accounting for $3.7 billion of that number and livestock bringing in $3.5 billion. But while our role as a volume producer of raw exports may be significant, our greatest contributions to helping solve global hunger could yet be ahead. Perhaps our role in the global food economy will be one of innovation and contributions to technological leaps. This future will be one where soil is enriched with “biochar,” where farmers earn as much through their efforts to offset carbon dioxide emissions as they do from crops, and where every animal is scanned, analyzed and barcoded.

Read the full article on Alberta Venture magazine's website.

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