GIFS reaches new funding deal

The Global Institute for Food Security in Saskatoon has signed a new funding agreement.

The institute announced yesterday that it had secured a new funding commitment with cash and in-kind contributions coming from the province, the University of Saskatchewan and Nutrien.

GIFS declined to share details of the new funding agreement, which includes contributions from the private and public sectors.

The agreement will support the institute’s next phase of growth and its new corporate strategy, GIFS officials said.

Chief executive officer Steve Webb said the institute is aiming to gradually reduce reliance on outside funding sources while continuing to conduct research and deliver innovative solutions that enhance global food security.

“At GIFS, we have a bold vision of a world where everyone has access to safe and nutritious food, and Saskatchewan’s thriving agri-food ecosystem has the building blocks to help make this vision a reality,” Webb said.

“We are grateful to Nutrien, the Government of Saskatchewan and … (the University of Saskatchewan) for their confidence in GIFS, their renewal of our … (agreement) and their continued support and financial commitment to our vision, which we are bringing to life through our various initiatives focused on making food production more sustainable.”

Founded in 2012 as a public-private partnership, GIFS was created to build on Saskatchewan’s strengths in agriculture and innovation to deliver technological, economic, nutritional and environmental improvements to the global food production system.

Nutrien said its contribution to GIFS will support the development of valuable agricultural technologies that enable economically, environmentally and socially sustainable food production.

“Achieving global food security is central to Nutrien’s purpose … and the Global Institute for Food Security is doing incredibly important work in this area,” said Nutrien president Mayo Schmidt.

“Saskatchewan is one of the world’s strongest agri-science ecosystems, and we’re proud to partner with GIFS, the province and the University of Saskatchewan to help bring innovations to market that will help farmers succeed in sustainably feeding a growing planet.”

Current initiatives underway at GIFS include research aimed at boosting photosynthesis, the process by which plants use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into energy and food.

To accommodate the institute’s growth, GIFS has also relocated to a new facility that contains twice as much laboratory space and three times as much capacity in plant growth facilities, including greenhouses and growth chambers.

GIFS said the new space will allow it to consolidate office functions and research facilities at one location.

GIFS was established with a funding commitment of $50 million over seven years, including $15 million from the province and $35 million from PotashCorp, which merged with Agrium in 2018 to form Nutrien.