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Diversity is changing the way Canada’s food shelves are stocked

The changing face of the Canadian population means the demand for non-traditional food items is growing – and that benefits everyone.

For example, Canada’s growing Asian population creates a higher consumption of foods like seafood, fruits, seeds and nuts. South Asians create a demand for pulses and vegetables like okra, chillies, bitter gourd, etc. Once these were only available at ethnic grocery stores, but are now finding shelf space in mainstream stores, as well.

Not only is the multicultural makeup of Canada’s population affecting the types of food eaten in Canada, it is also having an impact on the kinds of crops farmers are growing.

Let’s look at Saskatchewan as an example. This Prairie province has become the world’s largest green lentil exporter, when 30 years ago not a single pulse crop was grown there. Today Saskatchewan is known for producing low-fat and high-fibre sources of energy and protein that include legumes such as chickpeas, dried peas, lentils and edible beans.

Research is being carried out to identify what other types of crop varieties would be suitable to grow in Canada. The World Crops project, conducted at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, looked for adaptable vegetables that are not currently grown here. Okra was one of the crops investigated. The Canadian market demand for okra is high – totaling approximately $50 million – and this was a few years ago.

Canadian consumers continue to show a preference for fresh and local vegetable options in their grocery stores. This desire for local “world crops” points to limitless potential for both growers and buyers across the country.

Careers abound in Canadian agriculture. Many people associate words like agriculture and agri-food with farming. The reality is that the agri-food system is made up of a whole collection of industries – any activity that ensures the food will get from the field to your plate.

Farmers are certainly a vitally important part of the agriculture sector, but career opportunities extend far beyond being a farmer. Consider this: a large farm operation may require farm managers and workers, animal nutritionists, custom equipment operators and accountants to run smoothly.

Agriculture also depends heavily on innovative new research and the development of things like crop protection products and new seed varieties. As a result, there are countless career opportunities available in laboratory research, field trial monitoring, plus marketing and policy development.

And let’s not forget that crops must somehow get from farmers’ fields to consumers. So this means there are jobs in market research, business development, production, machinery operation, packaging and sales, to name a few.

With the wide variety of careers available, it’s not surprising that agriculture accounts for one in eight jobs in Canada, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Better yet, the need for workers in the agri-food sector is only going to increase in the future. For example, the demand for contractors, plus operators and supervisors in agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture, is expected to exceed the number of available workers over the next decade. And it is expected that there will be a similar shortage of farmer supervisors and livestock workers, predictions that open up many opportunities for both new graduates and experienced professionals.

– News Canada

Image credit: Artem Beliaikin fromPexels.

Posted: Apr 7, 2020

May 2020

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