International farmers get greenhouse tour in Alberta

Producers from countries ranging from Australia to Zimbabwe recently toured Alberta as part of an international program that helps farmers experience how agriculture is practiced around the world. “It’s not that we can take everything and try to implement it in our country, but it’s just sparking, you know, getting that thought going,” said Ranga Huruba, head of operations at the Shangani Holistic ranch in Zimbabwe.

As part of a group representing eight countries, Huruba visited farms and agri-food operations in Alberta under Nuffield Canada’s Global Focus Program, which is part of Nuffield International. Branches in member countries provide scholarships as high as $25,000, enabling recipients to see first-hand how agriculture is practiced in different parts of the world.

Steve Laroque, a crop adviser, and producer from Three Hills, Alberta, is a member of Nuffield Canada’s board of directors. He said the bigger global picture realized how policies can create barriers that prevent farmers from reaching their full potential. Huruba said Africa has the potential to feed the world, but he was awed by Alberta’s current success.

“Africa has got very good soils, and our climate is not that bad,” he said, pointing to what Alberta farmers have achieved with a shorter growing season and -40 C winters – production levels that are “unheard of when you come into Africa.” Laroque helped guide the group of Nuffield scholars around Alberta, where they visited operations as varied as a vegetable grower and a bison ranch to a honey producer and a cow-calf operation. Huruba noticed “there’s a lot of innovation around your farming systems — that people are free to think and explore and push boundaries.”

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