Since joining Alberta Barley in the spring, I have met with many people from across the barley value chain. From universities to government agencies, from regulatory bodies to private companies, and from researchers to producers, one sentiment is shared: everyone wants barley to succeed.
In order to achieve this common goal, we need to work together. By sharing our thoughts, ideas and challenges, we will be able to realize the solutions waiting to be discovered.
This type of value-chain collaboration is exactly the aim of the recent Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada funding initiative, Growing Forward 2. The initiative focuses on developing national agri- science clusters that create a critical mass of expertise by including industry, academia and government.
Alberta Barley’s Research Committee, having long recognized the need for this type of partnership, encouraged the application for an AgriInnovation Program (AIP) cluster grant. For the first time ever, barley was awarded an unprecedented $8 million national research cluster.
Furthermore, Alberta Barley was given the unique opportunity to ad- minister this cluster and promote the collaborative efforts of research groups from across Canada.
As research manager, I will be taking an active role in the administration of the grant, ensuring that the 27 research projects keep on track and reach their targeted goals. Please stay tuned to www.albertabarley.com for more details on the barley cluster research as it unfolds.
Agriculture Funding Consortium prioritizes collaborative research
As another fall approaches and farmers head into harvest, researchers are pre- paring another round of proposals for the Agriculture Funding Consortium.
This year, the administration of the annual research and development call is in the hands of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency. The major themes expressed as priorities include projects that are multidisciplinary, utilizing a combination of research organizations and including on-farm research.
The consortium is looking for research that is both strategically collaborative among provincial, national and inter- national resources, as well as research that includes processes for ongoing and effective knowledge transfer. Clearly, the emphasis is on research that involves a team effort.
Moving ahead with shochu
One of Alberta Barley’s long-standing projects has been identifying varieties of barley for making shochu, a distilled beverage that is typically about 25 per cent alcohol by volume. Shochu’s populatiry now surpasses that of sake in Japan.
Alberta Barley’s shochu project ends this December, but with positive results and a real potential for growing Alberta’s barley markets. In addition to working on future business development opportunities, shochu is poised to hit the shelves in Alberta liquor stores this fall. And who knows? If shochu sells well in Alberta and Canada, there maybe a shochu factory in Alberta’s future.
Breaking through the silos
More and more research programs are converging in the face of common issues, allowing solutions to be found through the input of everyone involved. Through collaboration and co-operation, we as stakeholders in the success of barley have a tremendous opportunity to make great strides in the coming years. Alberta Barley is proud to take its place on the team in funding, fostering and developing the next great advancements in barley research.