OTTAWA, February 12, 2013 — The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI), with the support of Farm Credit Canada (FCC), is pleased to announce the three winners of the 2011-2012 graduate students awards program, "Advancing a National Dialogue."
The students were tasked with addressing the question: "How can Canadian agri-food players produce more with less?" Students were urged to consider how players in the agri-food sector could work together and with other key stakeholders to better manage the use of natural resources (e.g., water) and minimize impacts on the environment. They were also asked to consider how these players can anticipate and meet evolving global food demands — and consumer expectations — while ensuring profitability. Students were also invited to offer practical operational ideas, including how governments could support these transitions. The student papers are posted on CAPI's website.
"We're delighted that these graduate students have offered their views about creating value in the agri-food sector," said David McInnes, President and CEO of CAPI. "We need to produce more with less. We need to generate a national dialogue on how best to do so, thanks in part to these passionate, engaged students."
Melanie Sommerville is a doctoral student in Human Geography at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include the globalization of agro-food systems and the politics of global food security. Sommerville's dissertation research explores the geopolitical dimensions of large-scale investments in farmland through case studies on the Canadian Prairies and overseas.
"My question about these new investment vehicles is whether the increased productivity they may generate could be offset by public interest losses with respect to other public services," said Sommerville while commenting on her paper.
The second place winner, Lauraine Wagter-Lesperance, is a doctoral student in Immunogenetics in the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph. "My response to the question asked of participants", said Wagter-Lesperance, "was that agri-food players could definitely produce more with less. They can do this by anticipating and meeting evolving global food demands and consumer expectations, while maintaining a profitable agri-food sector." Wagter-Lesperance' recent research has included evaluation technology to improve the health and food quality of dairy cattle through the reduction of antibiotics and improved resistance to diseases like mastitis.
Drew Davidson, the third place scholarship recipient, is doctoral student in Chemical Engineering (Nanotechnology) at the University of Waterloo. His research interests include new materials for controlled release of agrochemicals. When asked what motivated him to prepare his paper, Davidson said, "The sum of the effects of inefficient agrochemical use is a major problem that severely impacts both the cost and sustainability of agriculture. I strongly believe," added Davidson, "that reducing loss of agrochemicals has the potential for immense cost savings and sustainability increases for large scale agriculture."
Concluded in 2012, the Advancing a National Dialogue awards program was made available to nine graduate students over a three-year period and was supported by Farm Credit Canada.
The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) is an independent, unbiased policy forum that is dedicated to the success of Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector. CAPI is a catalyst. It identifies emerging issues, promotes dialogue and advances alternative solutions to issues with stakeholders across the diverse agriculture and agri-food value chain, and among academia, research institutes, governments and other sectors in Canada. Based in Ottawa, CAPI was established as a not-for-profit corporation in 2004 by the federal government and is guided by a diverse Board of Directors and an Advisory Committee [www.capi-icpa.ca].
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