LETHBRIDGE – Viterra and Canadian Foodgrains Bank celebrated the second year of their partnership on Tuesday, Nov. 6, which saw over 300 acres seeded earlier this year that will benefit hungry people in parts of the developing world.
A release states the project builds on last year’s successful pilot project, which saw Viterra provide the Foodgrains Bank with access to 42 acres of land to farm around its terminals in Balgonie, Saskatchewan and Stettler, Alberta.
This year, a total of 326 acres from Viterra terminals in Lethbridge and Trochu, as well as terminals in the Saskatchewan towns of Raymore and Grenfell, were also made available.
Southern Alberta Canadian Foodgrains Bank Coordinator, Andre Visscher, says it’s great to see people working together, all with a common goal to end hunger in this world.
“We really appreciate the support we received from a company like Viterra, and other companies as well, because they’re all helping to end hunger.”
Local farmers were also supported by their communities, and volunteered their time, equipment and resources to farm the land.
Ryan Mercer from Mercer Seeds helped farm the land in Lethbridge, on behalf of the Foodgrains Bank. His business, which he runs alongside extended family, is a full crop production and cleaning operation.
The family has contributed to the work of ending global hunger through the Foodgrains Bank for several years through their own growing project.
“We’re richly blessed here in Canada, and it’s a way of giving back,” Mercer said. “It’s something we can do both at the local level as well as an agricultural community to help end hunger, with larger corporations like Viterra involved, as well as small family farms.”
The Canadian Foodgrains Bank has growing projects around Southern Alberta, including in Medicine Hat, Burdett, Taber, Chin, Coaldale, Lethbridge, Picture Butte, Vauxhall, and a new one in Newell as well by Brooks.
Visscher says it’s always hard for a new growing project, like the one in Lethbridge, to get started.
“They have to learn, they have to ask for donations for fertilizer, inputs, chemicals, seeds, and it takes time to make those contacts. It’s not always easy to ask for a donation right, so one farmer might be a little easier to work with than another,” he stated.
In the Brooks area, they raised $119,000, in Coaldale it was $190,000, and the project in Lethbridge had a gross income of $55,000.
Visscher says it’s a significant amount of money altogether, as it will go well over $1 million for Southern Alberta, and that’s not even factoring in the matching funding from the federal government of 4 to 1.
The benefits from the projects can be seen around the world, as Visscher mentioned they do work in 34 countries.
“Last year we did $38 million of food assistance and agriculture development projects mainly in southeast Asia, Africa and South Sudan as well.”
Davin Lockwood, Viterra Lethbridge Market Centre Manager, explains why they were so enthusiastic to partner with Mercer Seeds to benefit the project.
“They have farmed this land in the past, so we were excited to extend our relationship and support the Canadian Foodgrains Bank at the same time. We had Canadian western red spring wheat seeded out in the field, and with the weather, it surprisingly yielded fairly well.”
The yield was just over 7,000 bushels, which was taken off the combine and brought it through the facility and the next step is shipping wheat to export customers around the world.
This is the first year for the Lethbridge project in particular, but Viterra has been involved for many years.
“Both on a cash donation side and allowing deliveries into our network to utilize our footprint,” Lockwood continued. “It was more important this year because we had the land available at several of our locations across western Canada, and we felt this was a great opportunity to partner with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and local producers in order to help the less fortunate globally.”
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