SASKATOON – A Saskatoon group has won the bid to host the 2019 International Wheat Congress, a first-of-its-kind event that will bring together more than 600 wheat scientists to discuss advances in wheat research and the future of wheat in helping avert a global food security crisis by 2050.
The successful bid, a combined effort of the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), Genome Prairie, Tourism Saskatoon and Ag-West Bio, was strongly endorsed by the Saskatchewan and national wheat research community. More than 500 wheat scientists from around the world voted for the Saskatoon venue from among those of the six competing countries.
“This vote of confidence by the international wheat research community is a testament to the great work being undertaken here,” said U of S plant scientist Curtis Pozniak, chair of the local organizing committee. “Canada is home to a strong wheat research community, with world-class public and private sector wheat research and breeding programs across the country.”
Pozniak said hosting this major event will raise the international profile of the local research community and result in new collaborations and opportunities.
The International Wheat Congress brings together for the first time two major wheat research conferences—the International Wheat Conference and the International Wheat Genetics Symposium.
Pozniak said that Saskatoon had a strong bid in large part due to its outstanding ag-related research facilities and talent, which include: the U of S Crop Development Centre which has developed more than 400 commercialized crop varieties; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada which houses the Plant Genetic Resources Centre; and the National Research Council of Canada which conducts leading-edge genomics research. In addition, the city boasts the Innovation Place technology park as well as the Canadian Light Source, which is one of the world’s leading synchrotron facilities.
Tourism Saskatoon president and CEO Todd Brandt said that while the economic impact to the city of hosting over 600 delegates in Saskatoon for four days will be significant, the true value of the congress is the opportunity to globally position the city and Canada as leaders in this field.
“With our community’s deep ties to agriculture and the U of S reputation in this area, our city is the perfect location to host the 1st International Wheat Congress,” Brandt said. “Saskatoon’s research infrastructure and talent pool is one of our city’s strategic competitive advantages. Hosting this congress will foster further sharing and advancement in this area.”
Saskatchewan supplies 10 per cent of the world's total exported wheat and is Canada's most important grain-producing region. While wheat provides a fifth of the overall daily protein and calories consumed throughout the world, estimates are that production must grow 60 per cent over the next 35 years.
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