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Buy: Technology will help ag evolve

Buy: Technology will help ag evolve

The industry is already changing, the CEO of the Agricultural Institute of Canada says

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Technology is part of the solution to meet the needs of a changing ag industry, the Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC) said.

People used to have stereotypical images of farmers in their heads, but those images are evolving with the advancements of computers and robotics, said Serge Buy, CEO of AIC.

“The idea of a farmer in 1960, for example, would be a teenager who was involved at his or her local high school and moved bales on his or her family’s farm,” he told “Now, that image may still exist, but what people aren’t seeing is that the farmer has knowledge in big data, robotics and artificial technology. Those are the people who are going to be running Canada’s farms in the future.”

A new federal funding competition is designed to help the ag sector find solutions to current challenges.

On Friday, Ottawa announced up to $50 million in funding for a project that involves automation and digital technologies within the ag and agri-food industries.

Offering funding and accepting project proposals is a good way to understand the industry’s needs, Buy said.

Serge Buy

“It’s great for the government to engage with these entrepreneurs and business owners on this kind of initiative,” he said. “We’ve already seen changes in agriculture and we’re going to see more in the near future. Making the proposals public also allows us to see not only what people are working on, but perhaps to identify themes within the sector that need improvement.”

Promoting Canadian innovation will also help the country remain competitive.

Bringing a product to market before a competitor will make Canadian ag more attractive for investment and other business opportunities, Buy said.

“When you’re managing changes, you need to have as many tools available as possible,” he said. “In Canada we haven’t all the tools. Broadband is a major component of adopting technology and some still don’t have reliable broadband.

“To stay competitive, we have to stay ahead of the game. There are high costs associated with work forces, and technology is a way to help offset those costs.”

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