Cigi working closer to home

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I was surprised when I looked over the agenda for the Canadian Grain Industry Overview program. It was the second Cigi program I was a part of and it was full of Canadians! I thought Cigi’s programs are usually with international participants, and they are, but there are a few during the year for Canadian farmers and industry professionals.

The Canadian Grain Industry Overview Program is a chance for Canadians working in agriculture to learn about the entire value chain and how important their roles are to the agriculture and agri-food industry.

This June, the program had 15 participants from all across the country.

Six were from Manitoba, including William Western and Derek Bogdan from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, who work in the same building as Cigi.

But although they share the building, they were amazed by Cigi’s technical facilities. Neither of them knew that their office building housed a pasta plant, a large scale bakery, or a pilot mill.

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Canadian industry participants snap photos of Cigi’s pasta extruder while learning how pasta is made on a commercial scale.

“We walk by Cigi’s pasta plant every day [on our way to work],” said Derek. “But I didn’t really know what it was or what it was for.”

The purpose behind the program is to give people who work in the agriculture industry a broad knowledge of the parts of the industry they don’t see.

The group had the opportunity to hear from and talk to over 30 industry professionals, including many  representing the Canadian Grain Commission and AAFC which are located in the same building as Cigi, near the historic corner of Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg.

There was an incredibly broad range of content presented on everything from certified seeds to the different uses of Canadian wheat classes to understanding how consumer trends affect the agri-food industry.

Some of the presentations were incredibly technical; my lack of (but quickly expanding) agriculture knowledge meant I got lost in some places and furiously wrote down things I needed to look up afterwards. For example what is phytosanitary? (simply means that plant exports are bacteria- and bug-free) What exactly does horticulture involve? (growing fruits and vegetables and sometimes flowers and herbs) And what on earth is a Berlese-funnel? (a simple funnel device used to detect bug infestations in grains).

This program gave the participants a broader understanding of the people working in the background of the Canadian grain industry.

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Participants learned about how Canadian wheat is used around the world in different types of baked end-products in Cigi’s pilot bakery.

At the program’s closing luncheon, Brenna Mahoney from Cereals Canada summed up the group’s feelings about the week.

“We’re walking away from this course with such a great sense of what a dynamic wonderful industry we’re working for,” she said. Participants around the room nodded in agreement. “There’s so much innovation, so much research, so many things that are happening. We’ll never look at a bun the same way again, we’ll never look at a lentil the same way again.”

Brenna also mentioned the value of showing people the full scope of the industry. She said she would go back to her office with the knowledge that she is an essential part of a bigger picture. No doubt others who attended the program feel the same way.

The next Canadian Grain Industry Overview Program is December 5–9, 2016. Click here to find out more or to register.

Did you know?

1 in 8 Canadian jobs are in ag and agri-food.  Ag employs over 2.1 million Canadians! (Source: Ag More than Ever)

Hannah Gehman is a Creative Communications student at Red River College in Winnipeg, working at Cigi for the summer.  Watch for more articles from Hannah about Cigi’s programs over the next several weeks.