BY ERIN ARMSTRONG • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN MALTING BARLEY TECHNICAL CENTRE: IN 2019, CHINESE MALT BUYERS MET WITH CMBTC STAFF
Co-operation and collaboration are not new in the barley world, whether we’re talking about research and development, working to create and support markets for Canadian barley or dealing with collective market challenges (more on this next issue). There are so many issues at play and many moving parts in today’s world of technological complexity, trade issues and regulatory challenges, never mind throwing in a global pandemic.
Two years ago, the Canadian Barley Industry Round Table, which included representatives from across the value chain, including farmers, government and the private sector, undertook a comprehensive review of the various barley value chain organizations. The group then came up with a plan to realign involvement in key areas and increase collaboration while respecting the histories and activities of each organization. In the area of barley market development and support, the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC) was identified as the organization best positioned to lead in these initiatives for malting barley as well as for all the additional segments of the barley industry.
The Barley Council of Canada (BCC) subsequently went through a strategic review and examined how we deliver value for our members in key areas. The CMBTC was established in 2000 to provide technical support to companies and organizations involved in the production and sale of malting barley and malt made with Canadian barley varieties. BCC has worked even closer with CMBTC on market development activities since mid-2019.
BCC holds an Agri-Marketing Program (AMP) feed barley project grant and CMBTC holds one for malting barley. AMP is a federal government funding support program, which also includes industry funding, for the growth of trade and expansion of markets for Canadian agricultural commodities while supporting sustainable growth and sector diversification. Over the past year-and-a-half, we focused on finding ways to work closer in the delivery of our respective projects. We are also looking ahead to the next round of AMP funding and the possibility of joining these under a combined AMP grant.
The COVID-19 pandemic that struck in early 2020 has made this collaboration even more valuable. As travel restrictions were imposed and indefinitely extended, all travel-related components of our respective programs have been cancelled. These will be replaced with virtual experiences and electronic information.
In revising our plans, the two organizations have also found the opportunity to make planned changes earlier than anticipated.
This includes the identification of synergies between our two separate programs. We will also work to expand the geographic reach of market development activities to countries not previously targeted. As many of us have learned when we have hosted or participated in virtual events, these occasions frequently provide an opportunity for more people to participate than might have been the case with in-person meetings.
As we work in this virtual world, BCC looks forward to continued close collaboration with CMBTC. We will also take advantage of ever-evolving technology platforms to help us deliver programs with a view to increased market opportunities for all types of Canadian barley.
Erin Armstrong is the executive director of Barley Council of Canada.