Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The United Nations conference on trade and development released its 2013 trade and environment report, titled “Wake up before it's too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate.” It included contributions from more than 60 international experts.
It shows recent global food prices were almost 80 percent higher than for the period 2003 to 2008. It also indicated how much slower agricultural productivity growth and fast-rising populations in the most vulnerable regions will almost certainly worsen current problems with hunger, drought, rising food prices and access to land. These pressures may easily lead to massive migrations and to international tensions and conflicts over food and resources such as soil and water.
The report recommends a rapid and significant shift away from conventional, monoculture-based industrial production of food with expensive inputs of fertilizers, agrochemicals and feedlots. Instead, mosaics of sustainable regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers and foster rural development are the way to go.
We in the NWT import a lot of our food and that makes us part of this global food supply system. The recommendations to focus on producing mosaics of small-scale farmers are as applicable here as anywhere in the world. Historically, there were market and domestic gardens in many of our communities, possibly all. There is some return happening, fortunately, but the recovery of commercial gardens will take some initial support.
This past year the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River ran a very successful first season of workshops, which has led to small-scale farming operations starting up in several communities across the NWT. Yellowknife had a farmers market that ran for the whole summer, with several small commercial garden vendors participating.
This UN report can help government realize that all over the world, people are looking at how to produce food on a small local scale. This approach makes even more sense in the NWT where, fortunately, we have not gone to over-fertilized monoculture farming. I know ITI is revising its programs to better support local food production, but they are still missing the mark required to help small producers build to sustainable enterprise.
Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude by statement.
---Unanimous consent granted