BC Government News / Ministry of Agriculture, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

B.C. innovators working to save food and bees

B.C. innovators working to save food and bees

VANCOUVER - Local organizations are partnering with the federal and provincial governments to develop innovative ways to save pollinators and combat food waste in British Columbia.

While honeybees play a key role in agriculture, various diseases and pests have threatened Canada's honeybee population in recent decades.

In a previous project, the University of British Columbia (UBC) developed a tool to identify and breed bees with enhanced resistance to disease. Building upon its earlier work, UBC has initiated a new project to develop a probiotic treatment to control disease.

The practical knowledge from this research will give beekeepers better tools to treat and monitor hive health, strengthening the honeybee population further.

This project is just one of a number of research projects that UBC is partnering with the federal and provincial governments on, to help farmers, growers, producers and processors become more competitive.

Another project by Vancouver-based network FoodMesh will help reduce the amount of useable food making its way to the landfill each year.

FoodMesh matches demand and supply more efficiently to reduce food wasted along the supply chain. The network consists of investors, businesses, growers, processors and charity organizations working with the shared goal of reducing the amount of usable food ending up in landfills each year. This social enterprise will better connect B.C. producers to new economic prospects by including access to animal feed and new markets for unsold food products.

The UBC and FoodMesh projects highlight a small sample of the 20 innovative ideas that B.C.-based organizations are working on to build a more sustainable future, with nearly $1.5 million in funding from the Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation Program under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The partnership is a five-year federal-provincial-territorial agreement that includes $2 billion in cost-shared strategic initiatives delivered by the provinces and territories, and $1 billion for federal programs and services through March 2023.

"It's always amazing, but never surprising, to see the innovative work that organizations are doing to create a more sustainable future. The work that UBC and FoodMesh are doing reflects the spirit of the Canada-B.C. agri-innovation program to 'enhance competitiveness, sustainability, productivity and resiliency,'” says Lana Popham, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture.

Did You Know… 

Honeybee crop pollination contributes to the production of $470 million to the B.C. economy ($250 million in field crops and $220 million in greenhouse crops), and over $2 billion across Canada.

It is estimated that 40% of food in Canada is never eaten, costing Canadians approximately $31 billion a year.