Man. to share ag R+D with India, Israel, Mexico

The Manitoba government has signed on to work with the Indian state of Punjab to set up a food development centre there, and to collaborate with Israel and Mexico on a new web-based ag research network relating to wetlands and watersheds.

Ag Minister Rosann Wowchuk on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Punjab to make available Manitoba’s package of consultant services in client and facility management, food-safety processes consistent with market demands, and pilot plant procedures.

Training in client incubator operations will also be available to the food development centre in Punjab once the facility is built and operating there, the province said.

“The Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie has developed expertise in designing, developing, equipping and operating such centres,” Wowchuk said. “We know the exchange of knowledge, research and technology can create profitable advantages for both Manitoba and India.”

The province has substantial expertise in all aspects of the food development industry and “our record for success speaks for itself,” Wowchuk said. “The ability to foster economic growth and support commercialization of value-added agri-food processing are important activities to any country moving to expand its agri-food industry.”

The MOU highlights the province’s willingness to share technical expertise promoting opportunities for entrepreneurs in India and Manitoba to “create trade partnerships and open the door to future business relationships,” the province said.

“Globally credible”

Also on Thursday, the province pledged $100,000 to a Manitoba-Israel-Mexico collaboration to set up an Agricultural Wetland/Watershed Research Network.

The new network, the province said, “will provide an Internet-based forum for researchers around the world whose work focuses on the role and function of wetlands and watershed research in largely agricultural regions.”

“This is especially important for Manitoba as we move forward to restore and protect our wetlands including the large Delta and Netley/Libau marshes on the southern shores of Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg,” Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick said Thursday.

The site is meant to serve as a “globally credible” source of scientific information for use by policy-makers and researchers interested in the flow of nutrients and other contaminants, the value of wetlands to society, the role of wetlands in providing resiliency to watersheds during times of drought and the role of protecting downstream freshwater lakes, such as Lake Winnipeg.

The project is also expected to be useful to a number of conservation districts in Manitoba working on watershed management plans.

“Israel has a long history of successfully managing many unique water quality and water supply issues throughout its history,” said Miriam Ziv, Israel’s ambassador to Canada, at Thursday’s announcement. “The partnership with Manitoba will be of great benefit to both jurisdictions.”

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