Engaging First Nations on ag opportunities

Engaging First Nations on ag opportunities
Jun 29, 2023

A new report shows First Nations communities want to increase participation in the ag sector

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A new report from the federal and prairie governments indicates members of First Nations communities want to participate in agriculture.

The report, titled First Nation Agriculture in the Prairie Region, shows that 89 per cent of those surveyed in First Nations communities are very interested in agriculture.

Starting in November 2021, First Nations community members received phone calls and emails, and participated in Zoom meetings related to agriculture in their respective communities.

Despite the interest, barriers exist.

A major one is access to capital.

Out of a list of 20 barriers to achieving future agricultural goals, 96 per cent of respondents identified lack of/access to funding and capital as the number one challenge.

Access to equipment and lack of experience/ag knowledge rounded out the top three.

Another challenge for First Nations farmers is access to land.

Even on Reserve.

“For those respondents whose Nation or community has land in cropping, over 50% indicate that all or most of the land is leased/rented/farmed by non-Indigenous farmers,” the report says.

First Nations farmers have a higher involvement in livestock production than in crop production, the report adds.

Respondents also want to ensure traditional farming is also maintained.

Producing goods like wild rice or medicinal plants “provide commentary on the importance of traditional foods, local/country foods and nutrition from the land for some Nations,” the report says.

This report provides the federal and prairie governments with an understanding of how First Nations communities feel about their involvement and agriculture and what the next steps could be, Minister Bibeau said.

"We have a lot to learn from the knowledge and diverse experiences of First Nations partners," she said in a statement. "By working together in the spirit of reconciliation, we will support actions that will increase their participation in the agriculture sector and further advance food systems among Indigenous communities."

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