The event will look at how agriculture can help achieve a net zero carbon economy.
Ottawa – While it’s just over three months away, the Agri-Food Innovation Council (AIC) thinks the battle against Covid-19 is going well enough that it can hold an open policy conference in Toronto.
Serge Buy, AIC’s CEO, admits opening the conference scheduled for Oct. 25-26 is a gamble but its theme of how agrifood can help Canada achieve a net zero economy will benefit from the kinds of discussions and exchanges a public event can accomplish.
AIC is making fallback plans in case the event has to revert to the virtual format. “After a year of videoconferences, we are keen to get back to in-person events.” While there have been a few public regional agrifood events recently, Buy anticipates the Toronto conference could be the first national one since March 2020.
Like many other organizations, CAPI has held numerous virtual events that covered many important subjects for the agrifood sector as well as expanding its online presence.
“They were useful but they don’t begin to replicate in person discussions.” He anticipates a lot of international attendance at the conference.
When AIC started mooting the idea of an open conference, it attracted a lot of interest, he said. Its biggest headache is it could land in the midst of a federal election campaign.
Although discussions on agrifood’s move to lower carbon emissions has brought a lot of attention to its ability to act as a carbon sink, sustainability and food security are also important considerations, he said. While there is lots of promising technology, what is practical for Canada’s farms needs to be examined.
The Canadian agri-food sector has been called on to play a critical role in the achievement of net-zero emission goals. “Innovation will be key to driving clean growth in agri-food while simultaneously increasing productivity. Expanding carbon sequestration, using biomass and agricultural waste as sources of energy, and improving input efficiencies are but a few solutions that have been and continue to be explored.”
Clean growth in agrifood will be greatly enabled by innovation. Expanding carbon sequestration, using biomass and agricultural waste as sources of energy, and improving input efficiencies are but a few solutions that have been and continue to be explored. With food demand showing no sign of abating over the next decades, reducing the sector’s carbon footprint while increasing its productivity will require a concerted response supported by intelligent planning, he said.
“This year’s annual conference is timely in view of Canada’s commitment, our southern neighbour’s change of direction on the issue and a global push for a better understanding of how agrifood can contribute positively to the situation.”