March 22, 2018

Provincial Funding Provided to Address Global Food Security

Research to tackle global food security received a major boost in the province today, as the Government of Saskatchewan announced $800,000 in funding for state-of-the-art equipment in a new Roots of Food Security research facility at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S).

The money will be provided by Innovation Saskatchewan, through its Innovation and Science Fund.  The facility, located on the U of S campus, supports the school’s Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Food Systems and Security research program.

The program is led by internationally recognized plant scientist Leon Kochian, a faculty member in plant and soil science at the U of S College of Agriculture and BioResources.  Kochian is also Associate Director of the Global Institute for Food Security, established in 2012 by PotashCorp (now Nutrien), the Government of Saskatchewan and the U of S.

“Saskatchewan has a proud legacy of groundbreaking research, discovery and leadership in plant science, and innovation,” Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan Tina Beaudry-Mellor said.  “This investment will help us push the boundaries of science even further, and will provide knowledge that will make a valuable contribution to global food security.”

Research at the facility will focus on designing and breeding better crops with healthier, more active and more efficient root systems that can grow successfully in less fertile soils.  The goal is to position Saskatchewan as a national driver for change in agricultural and food security issues facing Canada and the world in the 21st century.

The total cost for the new facility is $2 million, and additional funds will be provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation ($800,000), the U of S ($9,000) and $391,000 in in-kind contributions of cutting-edge technology from vendors.

“This combined federal-provincial investment supports fundamental research that is pivotal to keeping Saskatchewan and Canada at the forefront of agricultural innovation to meet the food challenges facing the world,” U of S Vice-President Research Karen Chad said.  “We have both the top talent through our CERC to make this happen, but now also the unique tools to conduct cutting-edge root systems research that will improve crop yields and help feed a hungry world.”

The CERC program led by Kochian embraces a multi-disciplinary approach that involves researchers in plant physiology, molecular biology and genomics, engineering, physics and computer science fields.